Canadians are optimistic about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, but believe the country still has much work to do.

Key takeaways

  • 41% of Canadians report only interacting with Indigenous individuals once a year or less
  • Only 4% of Canadians view relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians as “very positive”
  • 62% of Canadians agree that Canada’s Residential Schools policies could be considered acts of genocide

In advance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, Pluriel Research and Warshield conducted a comprehensive national survey with into how Canadians perceive Truth and Reconciliation efforts, shedding light on the dynamics of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in the country.

The study reveals that 69% of Canadians are well aware of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Notably, awareness levels dip slightly among the 18 to 34 age group, standing at 58%. Furthermore, the survey indicates that around 41% of respondents have interactions with Indigenous individuals once a year or less. Older Canadians, aged 55 and above, report less frequent interactions with Indigenous communities.

Just 4% of participants view relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians as “very positive,” and 30% view them as “somewhat positive,” while 26% perceive these relations as negative.

Crucially, 62% of Canadians agree that Canada’s Residential Schools policies could be considered acts of genocide. Moreover, a substantial 64% agree that “cultural genocide” is an appropriate description of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people.

In terms of government attention to reconciliation, approximately 30% of Canadians believe that the federal government has not paid enough attention to this critical issue. In contrast, 51% deem the attention “about right.” Provincial governments face a relatively higher level of criticism, with 35% of respondents feeling that they haven’t done enough. This trend extends to other institutions; public schools, media outlets, and private companies also receive varying degrees of scrutiny, with 43% of participants believing that private companies have not paid sufficient attention to reconciliation.

Half of Canadians, specifically 50%, express the belief that they have a personal role to play in reconciliation. Additionally, a majority of Canadians, constituting 56%, express optimism about achieving reconciliation in their lifetime. Interestingly, the highest level of optimism is observed among those aged 18-34, with a rate of 59%.

After being informed about the impact of Residential Schools on Indigenous peoples, 59% of respondents express a desire for Canada to do more to achieve reconciliation.

Gabe De Roche, CEO of Pluriel Research, reflected on these findings, stating, “These insights underscore the importance of continued dialogue and action on the path to reconciliation. Canadians are eager to see progress.”

Note on methodology: these insights are part of Pluriel Research’s “What Canadians Think” omnibus survey, one of Pluriel’s high-frequency data products. The survey was fielded online from Sept 25-26, 2023, with a total of 1,092 respondents (Canadians 18+), and survey weights were applied to account for any remaining sampling imbalances. The margin-of-error for an equivalent probability sample is +/- 3%. Margins-of-error for subgroups in the sample are larger commensurate with their share of the population.