Nearly 50% of Canadians not marking National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: survey

By Lauryn Heintz

Ahead of the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a new poll reports 48 per cent of Canadians say they won’t be taking any specific action to recognize the day.

A Leger report released Friday collected data through an online survey of more than 1,500 Canadians earlier in the week.

Just 23 per cent of people said they will wear orange Saturday to show their support.

Truth and Reconciliation Day, often known as Orange Shirt Day, was launched in 2013 to promote education and awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system,

The Canadian government made Sept. 30 a holiday in 2021 for federal workers.

Of those surveyed, 15 per cent of people said they will actively listen to Indigenous people speak about their issues, and 12 per cent will have conversations about the day with friends and family.

More than half of Canadians say there are “bigger societal challenges” in Canada, according to Leger.

However, 65 per cent agreed they are more understanding of why reconciliation is important for the country’s Indigenous peoples.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released 94 calls to action in 2015.

That same year, following his first election win, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a mandate letter to his cabinet that no relationship was more important to him, and to the country, than the one with Indigenous peoples.

One of many promises from the Liberals was to end boil-water advisories in First Nations communities within five years and implement all of the calls to action.

According to the Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led think tank at Toronto Metropolitan University, only 13 of those asks have been fulfilled.

The institute said, at this rate, work on the calls to action will not be done until 2065.

A significant amount of people in the survey say they are frustrated reconciliation is moving so slowly and that “no real progress is being made. This number is higher around Canadians 18 to 34 years of age.

Close to half — 48 per cent of people — believe ‘moderate’ progress has been made in Indigenous reconciliation since the Truth and Reconciliation report.

Canadians do feel, however, that they are more aware of the history of Indigenous people than years prior.

Nearly a quarter of people think they have more knowledge of the subject compared to four or five years ago, while four per cent say they are less aware.

Comparing this year’s survey results to Leger’s 2022 survey on the same topic, fewer Canadians think they are a little more aware (42 per cent in 2022 versus 39 per cent in 2023) or much more aware (30 per cent in 2022 versus 24 per cent in 2023).

-With files from The Canadian Press

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