Survey finds common ground, but still 'so much to do' on path to reconciliation

A new survey commissioned by the organization Reconcilation Canada suggests many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians share the same attitudes on the path forward to reconciliation.

Survey results come nearly 2 years after Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report

Debbie Stephens holds an eagle feather as she pauses before the start of the walk for reconciliation, part of the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in May 2015 in Gatineau, Que. (The Canadian Press)

A new survey suggests many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians share the same attitudes on the path forward to reconciliation.

Nearly two years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report on the tragic legacy of Canada's Indian Residential School system, the survey, commissioned by the organization Reconciliation Canada, found that 62 per cent of Indigenous people and 46 per cent of non-Indigenous Canadians agreed there's a "great need" for reconciliation.

"One of the exciting things about the survey is that there was a similarity in alignment of ideas around what it means to both camps," said Reconciliation Canada founder and residential school survivor Chief Robert Joseph on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning

"The first one of course is that everybody agrees that we desperately need reconciliation. So that's a good start, for all sides to say yeah, we agree."

Chief Robert Joseph is the ambassador for Reconciliation Canada. (Reconciliation Canada)
On top of attitudes and perspectives on reconciliation, the survey also asked respondents to gauge specific actions needed to achieve reconciliation and improve opportunities for people from Indigenous communities.

For example, 82 per cent of Indigenous and 61 per cent of non-Indigenous respondents "strongly agree" that there needs to be a commitment to funding Indigenous schools at the same level of other public schools in Canada.

Joseph said he was encouraged by results like that. 

"Creating opportunity for all people to be able to reach their potential, that was key," said Joseph. "And of course mitigating racism ... they identified that as being important."

'There's so much to do'

Reconciliation Canada will host a national online discussion Wednesday evening to discuss the survey results and the role of reconciliation in a multicultural Canadian context.

"There's so much to do. But I'm satisfied that as a collective, as Canadians, we're beginning to discover our common humanity," said Joseph.

Although he calls the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadian "broken" and said it "needs repairing," he's pleased with the work he's seen accomplished in recent years to raise awareness of the damage done by residential schools, and how that continues to impact communities today.

"It's all a matter of degree. And every inch, every shift, every movement forward is reconciliation in action," said Joseph. 

"So it may right now seem impossible, but already people have said sorry to each other. People have told each other that they love each other. People have extended handout to others who need help. And people are starting to care for each other."

Read the survey results here:

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