Canadian Public Opinion on Aboriginal Peoples

1. Opening common to all gatherings.

2. Introduction of the theme by facilitator.

In June, 2016, Environics Institute published the Final Report of its 2016 national survey of non-Aboriginals in Canada on their attitudes toward Aboriginal peoples. The survey includes many comparisons to a survey they conducted called the Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study in 2008. One of many sponsors of the survey was the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Here are some of the key findings of the 2016 survey with comparative findings with 2008.

  1. One quarter (26%) of the non-Aboriginal respondents say that their views of Aboriginal peoples have improved over the last few years.  (61% “stayed the same”, 10% gotten worse).
  2. “Personal contact with Aboriginal peoples” has not changed much since 2009; “Often” (26%), occasionally, (30%)
  3. A majority (56%) agreed more needs to be done to educate school children about abuse and discrimination faced by Aboriginals, and 75% said funding for reserve schools should match was is paid in the rest of Canada.
  4. The biggest challenge faced by Aboriginals, when asked unprompted, is “stigma, inequality, discrimination.”  It topped the list (18%, up from 6% in 2008) of about ten issues.
  5. There is little optimism among Non-Aboriginals that progress is being made in narrowing the gap in living standards (“getting bigger” 22%; “Not really changing” 54 %).
  6. Nine out of ten say Aboriginal  people are “often” (46%) or “sometimes” the subject of discrimination. This perception has increased by 13% since 2004 and 2006 surveys.
  7. There is an increase in agreement that Canadians have a role in reconciliation; 84% up from 67% in 2008.


Connected Advocates (18%) High level of contact and strong belief that Aboriginal peoples often experience discrimination.

Young Idealists (23%) Idealistic and optimistic, Close to Connected Advocates but they do not have as much knowledge of history and current challenges and not the same level of personal engagement. They may be the next group of Connected Advocates. Female and urban, concentrated in Toronto and Montreal, immigrants, often students.

Informed Critics (23%) Knowledgeable like the Advocates, but not especially sympathetic to challenges and aspirations of Aboriginals. Oldest and most affluent of all five groups, and most urban, concentrated in the West.

Disconnected Skeptics (21%) Uninformed and unaware, they typically think Aboriginal peoples are no different from other Canadians. Like the Dismissive naysayers, but without the emotional negativity. Simply don’t know and don’t care. More of a male-dominated group, often young and foreign born. Found in Quebec and rural regions.

Dismissive Naysayers (14%), tend to view Aboriginal peoples and communities negatively, i.e., entitled and isolated from Canadian society. Opposite end of spectrum from Advocates.  Most likely to be male, somewhat older, higher than average incomes but not higher than average education. Least urban and concentrated on the prairies.

3. Sharing Circle

4. Determination of the theme for the next meeting and the reader.

5. Resources:

i. Readings
ii. Videos
iii. Organizations
iv. Actions

6. Closing common to all gatherings.