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Call to Action # 55: National Council for Reconciliation (53-56)

Reconciliation Barometer

September 28, 2021

Globe and Mail – Later this year, a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics hope to clear things up by releasing their first forecast of what reconciliation in Canada is, and where it is headed. The project, called the Reconciliation Barometer, is designed to strip out the rhetoric and place the undertaking of reconciliation under statistical scrutiny. “This barometer will help measure whether or not the social distance that has plagued this country for so long between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is widening or closing, whether or not attitudes are hardening or softening in regards to Indigenous rights and the recognition of Indigenous rights, and how we’re collectively doing,” said Ry Moran, associate librarian at the University of Victoria and a contributor to the project…And running right alongside of that was a very fundamental recognition that data, transparency of data and ongoing measuring and monitoring of our successes and failures would be an absolutely critical component of the work that lay ahead of us.”

Katherine Starzyk, an associate professor of social and personality psychology at the University of Manitoba, lead on the barometer project. Researchers pored over the testimony and conducted a qualitative analysis, coding what was said line by line. They also canvassed leaders in the social justice realm and examined international reconciliation parameters. From that, they came up with 13 broad indicators that they intend to track over time. Those indicators include:

  • awareness of Indigenous history
  • health of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians
  • level of Indigenous leadership within various sectors of society
  • engagement in Indigenous culture
  • regard for the natural world and
  • issuance of appropriate apologies.

The scores can be broken down for specific sectors, such as criminal justice, education, child welfare and others.

It is so many different things to so many different people,” Dr. Starzyk said. “Some people will identify more with some indicators than others. What I will say is that our items are very valid and reliable. We’ve kind of developed them with excruciating attention to detail.”

The team will provide more findings from their work when it is ready for publication later this fall.

On the Decibel podcast, host Tamara Khandaker spoke with two of the experts behind the Reconciliation Barometer project, Katherine Starzyk and Ry Moran, about its goals and the significance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.