The majority of Canadians have heard of aboriginal protest movement Idle No More, a new poll suggests, with more than half saying Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike won't advance the cause of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Canada.

The majority of people polled — 64.2 per cent — said they had heard of Idle No More, with 27.8 per cent saying they hadn't heard of it and 7.9 per cent unsure.

Despite the fact the movement is driven by young people, awareness was highest among older Canadians, aged 60 and up, with awareness dropping in other age groups. Canadians aged 18 to 29 were the least aware of the movement.

Idle No More seems to have penetrated deeper in Western Canada. Poll respondents living in British Columbia were the most likely to have heard of the movement, followed by the Prairies. Awareness was lower in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Ontario.

The Nanos Research poll, conducted online between Jan. 18 and 19, 2013, surveyed 1,000 people. There is no margin of error stated for the online survey.

Spence hunger strike not helping

Spence began a hunger strike Dec. 11, but ended it on Thursday morning, CBC News has learned. The poll indicates more than half of Canadians think it may have been in vain.

Asked to choose whether they thought the hunger protest by Spence "will advance or not advance the cause of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada," more than half of those who answered the poll — 54.1 per cent — said they didn't believe it will. Another 28.1 per cent said they were unsure, with only 17.8 per cent believing the hunger strike will advance the cause of aboriginal people.

The belief Spence's hunger strike won't help was strongest in British Columbia and on the Prairies. Sentiment that the hunger strike would advance aboriginal issues was strongest in Atlantic Canada, but was still outweighed by those who said it would not.

Of those who had heard of the Idle No More movement, asked whether they had a positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or negative impression, 40.6 per cent said they had a positive or somewhat positive impression. Another 45.5 per cent said they had a negative or somewhat negative impression and 13.9 per cent were unsure.


  • This story has been edited from an earlier version to remove regional and demographic numbers that reflected sample sizes too small to meet CBC guidelines.
    Jan 24, 2013 3:49 PM ET