Two-thirds of Indigenous people don’t feel respected in Canada

Two-thirds of Indigenous people feel that the federal government does not respect their community and identity, according to a recent poll.

It’s one of the many findings from the poll commissioned by CBC News as the October federal election approaches.

Conducted by Public Square Research and Maru/Blue, the poll ran between May 31 and June 10, and included 500 Indigenous people from across the country who responded online.

When asked “Do you feel that the federal government respects your community and identity?” 67 per cent of Indigenous respondents said no, and 66 per cent said they don’t feel like a respected part of Canada.

The poll also found that fewer than two in 10 Indigenous people believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be re-elected this fall.

Hayden King, executive director at Yellowhead Institute, a First Nations-led research centre based at Ryerson University, said the lack of confidence in the current Liberal government is not surprising.

“We have a government that has campaigned on nation-to-nation relations and reconciliation, and over the course of the four years, we have just seen promise after promise being broken,” he said.

He said the promises that have been kept have sparked “much contention and disappointment.”

Clean drinking water, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, improving conditions on reserves, access to mental health services, as well as job training and economic opportunities were ranked among the top issues for Indigenous people surveyed.

Of those issues, 41 per cent of respondents felt none were well addressed by the government.

Results may not reflect the diversity of Indigenous Peoples

King questioned the accuracy of the poll’s findings when it comes to reflecting the diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit across Canada. He said that was most evident in the results that found an overwhelming majority of Indigenous voters (94 per cent) said voting is an important duty, with 58 per cent saying they vote in every federal, provincial and municipal election.

“I don’t have the quantitative data to back me on this, but anecdotally that number cannot be true,” he said.

He said many First Nations people do not vote for a variety of reasons.

“It’s difficult for me to accept that 94 per cent believe voting is an important responsibility of First Nations peoples.”

The sample of 500 Indigenous respondents self-identified, and were not further asked if they identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit, nor if they were urban, rural, northern, men, women or two-spirit.

“I don’t think you can really say that this data is reliable because of that,” said King.

“Without a more nuanced understanding of who answered the survey, the sample of 500 is really meaningless. It’s a relatively good sample size, but it’s too general for us to draw any conclusions from these responses.”

Majority say more needs to be done for Indigenous people

According to the poll’s findings, only two in 10 Indigenous respondents said that the government performed well on the missing/murdered Indigenous women file and the same number said the same about promoting and respecting Indigenous culture. Nine in 10 said more needs to be done for Indigenous people in Canada, compared to 69 per cent in of non-Indigenous people.

“You have to be the most anti-Indigenous Canadian to say that enough has been done for Indigenous people,” said King. “That’s not surprising whoever the sample was.”

King said what did stand out was the poll’s finding that nine per cent of Canadians overall are concerned about the quality of life in Indigenous communities as an election issue, versus 31 per cent of Indigenous respondents.

“[It] speaks volumes,” he said.

“We may question if the sample is representative of the Indigenous folks, but the sample of Canadians is representative and the nine per cent of Canadians that think Indigenous issues should be an election priority speaks to how much work there is to do.”

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