Much work on reconciliation left to do, barometer report reveals
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/02/2022 (480 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While a study looking at reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples has found progress made in recent years, there is still a gap between the two groups in their understanding of residential schools.
About 90 per cent of Indigenous people say they know about residential schools, but only 65 per cent of non-Indigenous have the same response.
And, for Katherine Starzyk, that’s a clear indication more education is required.
“The walk toward reconciliation will be a long one and lead us down many paths,” the Canadian Reconciliation Barometer’s principal investigator and associate professor in psychology at the University of Manitoba said Tuesday.
“Our report suggests we have begun our walk — there are some bright spots in our findings — and that we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
But Starzyk said there has been a significant increase in awareness because of the tragic discoveries in the past year of unmarked graves on and near the sites of former residential schools across the country. Thousands of Indigenous children forced to attend government-mandated Catholic Church-run schools never returned to their home communities and their families.
“We did the poll just before the first announcement on graves,” she said. “I expect what happened (last) year will change the answer next year.
“We are planning for the long term. The idea is the project will go on as long as necessary… our goal is to track progress to keep peoples’ attention on what is going on and to influence policy and action.”
The survey of 1,119 Indigenous and 2,106 non-Indigenous people asked opinions on different aspects of reconciliation in five regions across the country.
When asked whether Canadian governments have “harmed Indigenous peoples intentionally, systematically, and for a long time,” 75 per cent of Indigenous respondents agreed, compared to 57 per cent in the non-Indigenous group.
And 79 per cent of Indigenous participants asked whether past harmful actions continue to negatively affect Indigenous people agreed, compared to 63 per cent of non-Indigenous respondents.
The survey also found Indigenous people don’t believe the federal government and First Nations have a true nation-to-nation relationship, they don’t think Indigenous cultures are thriving and they don’t believe groups who have harmed Indigenous peoples “have showed remorse, provided sincere apologies, or accepted responsibility.”
But Starzyk said there is also good news in the report, including Indigenous people indicating they are proud of their heritage and they are engaged in their communities.
Brenda Gunn, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s academic and research director, said in a statement “people in Canada are learning about this horrific history and the inequalities that exist.
“However, there is still so much more work needed in education and policies. Having a measure of the Canadian public’s perceptions on progress toward reconciliation is a key tool to guide policy makers in their decisions to support reconciliation.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.