July 9, 2019
What are the perspectives, experiences and priorities of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Canada?
A new national survey reveals how Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Canada view the future and reconciliation between their peoples. The first of its kind, the Canadian Youth Reconciliation Barometer charts the state of reconciliation among youth in Canada (ages 16 to 29) through their attitudes, aspirations, priorities, and experiences. The results show that youth in Canada as a whole are aware and engaged when it comes to the history of Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations and reconciliation in particular. There is a striking alignment between both populations of youth regarding their aspirations and views, with Indigenous youth more prominently prioritizing education as a key life goal.
The survey was conducted earlier this year by the non-profit Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with Canadian Roots Exchange and the Mastercard Foundation.
Key findings from the survey include the following:
- Youth in Canada have a considerable amount of connection and interaction with people in the other population, which extends to close friendships: More than eight in 10 Indigenous youth and one-quarter of non-Indigenous youth say they have one or more close friends in the other population. Moreover, interactions with individuals in the other population are more often than not positive in terms of comfort and respect.
- Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth are largely in agreement on the current state of relations between their peoples, the extent of discrimination experienced by Indigenous Peoples, and the need to address the legacy of colonization, specifically in terms of reducing the socio-economic inequities, incorporating Indigenous perspectives on community, land and culture, and improving non-Indigenous understanding of the history.
- Most youth in Canada have some familiarity with the concept of reconciliation, although this is stronger among Indigenous youth. For both populations, reconciliation is considered to be about rebuilding relationships and trust, apologizing and making amends, and correcting past wrongs. Many in both populations have seen or heard about specific examples of progress toward reconciliation in the form of apologies, government actions, education initiatives, and cultural programs.
- Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth see a number of barriers to reconciliation, notably myths and stereotypes about what Indigenous Peoples receive from Canada, a lack of political leadership to implement real change, and too little understanding among non-Indigenous people. At the same time, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth are generally optimistic about the prospects for meaningful progress toward reconciliation in their lifetimes.
- One-third of Indigenous youth, and one in six non-Indigenous youth report having been involved in some type of reconciliation activity (e.g., cultural activities, education, community events), and about half of the rest express some interest in doing so. Such involvement with reconciliation on a personal level appears to be making a positive impact on how youth in Canada relate to Indigenous issues and reconciliation in particular (e.g., having a more informed and positive perspective).
- Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Canada share the same broad life goals, which include a successful or meaningful career, family and children, financial independence, and living a balanced life. Indigenous youth place a comparatively greater priority on educational goals. Both populations express confidence in achieving at least some of their life goals, but for most the primary obstacles are financial (insufficient income, high debt) and emotional pressures (anxiety, depression, low motivation).