More than 150 years of systemically racist Canadian government policies regarding Indigenous People, combined with centuries-old anti-Indigenous sentiments entrenched in society, has resulted in the recent and long overdue calls for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens. Parliament’s 2008 apology for the residential school legacy, followed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada (2008-2015) and its subsequent Calls to Action (2016), are challenging Canadians to examine our own attitudes and address issues of justice, safety and inclusion for Indigenous People.
What Vital Signs told us about reconciliation:
Older Winnipeggers and those living in Southwest, Southeast and Central neighbourhoods say they are the most familiar with the TRC and its Calls to Action. Citizens who think our community is doing enough to address reconciliation are likely to be men, people aged 35+ and those who have lived in Winnipeg more than 10 years. One-third of Winnipeggers don’t know if reconciliation is being achieved in our community.
While attitudes among Canadians, during the past decade, have shown an increased awareness on issues affecting Indigenous citizens, a large portion of the population is still unaware of the true history of how governments and society have treated Indigenous People and the impact this has had on all communities. Furthermore, while 52 percent of non-Indigenous Canadians believe Indigenous People have unique rights as the first inhabitants of Canada, only 37 percent of Manitobans share this belief. Despite having the largest urban Indigenous population of any city in Canada, Manitobans’ perceptions and attitudes of Indigenous People remain relatively negative when compared to the rest of the country. Still this gap hasn’t dampened hopes as most citizens, especially those aged 18 to 29, remain optimistic that one day there will be meaningful reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.