Indigenous

Visible minorities more concerned about Indigenous people's welfare than other Canadians, says poll

A recent pre-election survey suggests that visible minorities in Canada are more likely than the general population to be concerned with the quality of life of Indigenous people, while Indigenous people are more likely to be concerned about immigration.

17% of visible minorities concerned about Indigenous people's quality of life versus 9% of total population

Jamileh Naso (right) is the president of the Canadian Yazidi Association. She works with newcomer and Indigenous communities and hopes to create a better understanding between the two. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

A recent pre-election survey suggests that visible minorities in Canada are more likely than the general population to be concerned about the quality of life of Indigenous people, while Indigenous people are more likely to be concerned about immigration.

The poll was commissioned by CBC News and was conducted by Public Square Research and Maru Blue between May 31 and June 10, and included 500 Indigenous people from across the country who responded online. 

It found that 17 per cent of the people identifying as visible minorities surveyed were concerned about the quality of life in Indigenous communities compared to nine per cent of the general population in Canada.

"Coming from a visible minority, I think we really know the struggles that we face in our own home countries — the persecutions, the genocides, the targeting because of the colour of our skin or the way we choose to practise our religions," said Jamileh Naso.

Naso was born in a Syrian refugee camp and is the president of the Canadian Yazidi Association. 

(CBC)

She brought a group of new Canadians to a drumming event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg Thursday focusing on building a relationship between Indigenous and newcomer communities.

"When we come to a country like this and we hear the struggle of a community like the Indigenous Peoples, I think we feel for it in a different way... that empathy is there right away," said Naso.

Indigenous concerns with immigration

The poll also reported 61 per cent of the Indigenous respondents were worried that accepting too many immigrants will change Canada, compared to 56 per cent of the general population.

Immigration is something that Indigenous educator Janice Millar admits to being concerned about.

She, along with school principal Mohamad Rezai, were guest speakers at the drumming event.

"I don't think that anyone is less welcoming," said Millar.

"It's the concern of, we're still in the background and we haven't moved forward." 

Millar grew up in Winnipeg and said that over the past 20 years she has noticed a significant increase in the number of newcomers in the city.

Janice Millar was one of the guest speakers at City Beat '19. The event was held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and brought together people from multicultural backgrounds. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

She is also not surprised that visible minorities in Canada were more likely to report being concerned with Indigenous Peoples' welfare.

"If we go down to the hood...they're living with Indigenous people side by side, being neighbours. They see firsthand what's going on," said Millar.

"And so I think they have a little more compassion than someone who's living in [the suburbs]."

Naso said she understands why Indigenous people might be cautious about immigration.

She said there is a lot of miscommunication between the two groups, with some newcomers thinking Indigenous people get things for free, while Indigenous people may think immigrants are being given too much money.

Naso works with both newcomer and Indigenous communities and is hoping to create an understanding between the two.

"We face similar struggles and not so similar struggles at the same time," said Naso.

"So I think coming together and really uniting as one will really help all of our causes in the end."

The drumming event was organized by Jay Stoller, who runs an African drum group company known as the Drum Cafe.

His team gave out both African and Indigenous style drums to everyone in attendance, to share some songs.

Stoller said his idea for the event was to bring Indigenous people and newcomers together to help build understanding between the two groups.


Commissioned by CBC News, the Public Square Research and Maru/Blue survey was conducted between May 31 and June 10, 2019, interviewing 4,500 eligible voters. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have registered to participate in the Maru Voice panel. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of Canada, according to Statistics Canada. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation in the Maru Voice panel rather than a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. However, a comparable probabilistic national sample of 3,000 voters would have a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, while samples of 500 voters have a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About the Author

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1