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Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation are supported by newcomers to Canada.

The process of reconciliation necessitates public education about Canada's treatment of Indigenous Peoples.

In keeping with the section on "education for reconciliation" in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report, knowing the history can assist citizens in better grasping contemporary difficulties and provide them with the tools to collaborate respectfully with Indigenous Peoples to achieve a better future.

Much of this public education takes place in schools, in the media, and even in conversations among friends and family members. New immigrants to Canada, on the other hand, may miss out on some of this socialization (depending on their age when they arrive), as they will have less exposure to Canadian schools and media throughout their formative years.

This may have an impact on their sentiments toward Indigenous Peoples and their support for the reconciliation process. Given that one in every five Canadians was born outside of the country, this would be a major political danger.

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Alternatively, despite less exposure to Canadian schools and media, it's possible that immigrants are more supportive of Indigenous Peoples because they are more aware of the global legacies of colonialism, more open to learning about their new country, or more aware of their responsibility as newcomers to learn Canadian history.

Indigenous Peoples Supportive

As a result, the subject of how immigrants view Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and vice versa, is important yet rarely addressed.

However, data from the Environics Institute's Confederation of Tomorrow 2021 poll, which included sufficiently large samples of both immigrants and Indigenous Peoples, allowed us to investigate these issues.

We can look at responses to three questions to learn more about immigrants' attitudes toward Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation:

  1. How well-versed in the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada do you consider yourself to be?
  2. In your opinion, have Canadian governments gone too far or not far enough in their efforts to promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?
  3. Do you believe that individual Canadians have a role to play in efforts to achieve reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and if so, what role do you think they should play?

Despite having less knowledge or assurance about these issues than individuals born in Canada, new immigrants are more likely to support Indigenous Peoples, according to the study results.

Knowledge chasm

The poll reveals a significant disparity in knowledge about the history of Indian Residential Schools between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people — both immigrants and non-immigrants to Canada.

According to the findings, first-generation immigrants are less likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to indicate they are "extremely familiar" with this history and are more likely to have no opinion about it.

These findings suggest that first-generation immigrants are less knowledgeable about the history of Indian schools in Canada than other Canadians. Second-generation Canadians, on the other hand, are more likely to be "extremely familiar" with the history of Indian Residential Schools than third-generation Canadians.

However, first-generation immigrants' lack of knowledge does not translate into a lack of enthusiasm for reconciliation efforts.

Response from the government

When asked whether governments had gone too far or not far enough to achieve reconciliation, they showed their support.

The most apparent distinction is that Indigenous Peoples are significantly more likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to believe that governments have failed to go far enough in promoting reconciliation.

First-generation immigrants, however, are equally as likely as second and third-generation Canadians to hold this viewpoint. When education is taken into account, first-generation immigrants are likewise less likely to believe that governments have gone too far in their efforts to foster reconciliation (which is an important step since first-generation immigrants are more likely to be university-educated than the rest of the population).

First-generation immigrants are likewise more likely to respond "neither" or "cannot say" rather than taking a firm viewpoint.

Canadians and their role

Indigenous peoples are also the most inclined to believe that individual Canadians have a role to play in reconciliation, which is predictable.

However, first-generation immigrants are just as likely to share this viewpoint as second or third-generation Canadians (although first-generation immigrants are also more likely to have no opinion on this question).

These findings are positive because they imply that not being socialized in Canada as a child is not a barrier to establishing knowledge and support for reconciliation.

Support for immigration among indigenous peoples

Surprisingly, the study also allows us to investigate the flip side of the immigration-Indigenous Peoples relationship in Canada, namely Indigenous Peoples' support for Canadian immigration.

This is a potentially divisive topic. On the one hand, post-World War II immigration from a variety of backgrounds has already thrown the narrative of Canada as a nation of two founding peoples into disarray (British and French). As a result, a multicultural but also multi-national perspective of Canada emerges, one that includes Indigenous Peoples and nations.

Immigrants' and Indigenous Peoples' interests may be connected in this way. At the same time, the continual influx of newcomers can be viewed as a continuation of the colonization/settler process.

Immigration-related thoughts

We can look into this by looking at a question in the survey that asks Canadians if they agree or disagree with the statement that "generally, there is too much immigration to Canada."

The findings reveal considerable disparities in opinions toward immigration between the general public and Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples had the highest percentage of people who "strongly agree" with the statement, at 33%.

However, the disparity in immigration levels is largely due to cultural differences between Indigenous Peoples and first-generation immigrants. While Indigenous Peoples are more likely than first-generation immigrants to strongly agree that Canada has an excessive amount of immigration, there are no statistically significant differences between Indigenous Peoples and second- or third-generation Canadians.

This shows that being born in Canada, rather than Indigenous identity, maybe the most important factor affecting sentiments toward immigration.

Nonetheless, this conclusion is significant because it reminds proponents of increased immigration to be open to and interact with Indigenous Peoples' viewpoints on the subject. As a policy goal, Canadian immigration should be undertaken with an eye to how it will be seen by people who have been displaced by the entrance of settlers earlier.