A poll commissioned by CBC News reveals Canadians on the Prairies are more likely to feel uncomfortable about having a romantic relationship with an aboriginal person than in any other region.

Only 50 per cent of people from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta said they would be OK with a romantic relationship with an aboriginal person. That compares with the national average of 63 per cent.

The poll results reflect the history of racism in Canada, said Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba.

"Starting from the residential school era, Canadians have been taught, as much as indigenous people in those schools, that they were inferior and savage," Sinclair told CBC News.

Niigaan Sinclair - November 2014

The findings of the CBC/Environics poll reflect how Canadians over the years have been taught that indigenous people are inferior said Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba. (CBC)

But it is not just romantic relationships where respondents from the Prairies scored below the national average.

Fewer people from the Prairies who were surveyed said they were comfortable having an aboriginal neighbour — 61 per cent versus 75 per cent nationally.

As well, 66 per cent of respondents from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta said they felt comfortable working for an aboriginal person, compared to 76 per cent nationally.

In both cases, no other region in Canada scored as low as the Prairies.

When asked a broader question about comfort with people of a different ethnic background, respondents residing in Quebec and the Prairies indicate somewhat lower comfort levels compared to those residing in the Atlantic region or British Columbia.

The CBC News national online survey was conducted by Environics Research Group between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29. It comprised 1,500 adults aged 18 or older, including 260 people who were visible minorities.

The poll gauged the respondents' feelings on a range of issues and scenarios, from immigration and multiculturalism to their "comfort level" with people of different ethnic backgrounds living or working in their community.


Are we racist?

This week CBC is exploring Canadian attitudes on discrimination, immigration and multiculturalism, and the question "Are we racist?" We want to hear from you — send us your story with a photo of yourself by emailing us at community@cbc.ca or on social media using the hashtag #MyExperienceWithRacism.


Read the poll report

Below is the full report from the Environics Research Group poll. The section breaking down respondents' comfort levels about engaging with aboriginal Canadians is on page 7.