Topic of Residential Schools Absent in Some Canadian Classrooms

Two thirds of Canadians who attended K-12 in the country say they currently have a negative assessment of residential schools.

Vancouver, BC [August 28, 2020] – Fewer than half of Canadians remember learning about residential schools inside a classroom, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of adults who attended Elementary School and/or High School in Canada, just over two-in-five respondents (42%) say the topic of residential schools was discussed by their teachers.

More than one-in-four respondents (27%) say they heard about residential schools when they attended High School, while 15% were introduced to the topic in Elementary School.

Across the country, 45% of respondents say they did not hear about residential schools as students in Canada.

“The findings outline some glaring generational differences when it comes to in-class instruction about residential schools,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “While only 26% of respondents aged 18-to-34 say they did not discuss this topic inside the classroom, the proportion jumps to 51% among those aged 35-to-54 and 58% among those aged 55 and over.”

A third of respondents (34%) say the assessment of residential schools that their teacher (or teachers) provided to them was “positive”. Two-in-five respondents (41%) remember the assessment of residential schools as “negative” and 25% are not sure.

When asked about their current personal view of residential schools, two thirds of respondents (68%) say it is “negative” while only one-in-five (21%) describe it as “positive.”

On a regional basis, more than three-in-four respondents in British Columbia (88%), Alberta (77%) and Ontario (76%) currently have a negative perception of residential schools, along with majorities of those who reside in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (68%), Atlantic Canada (62%) and Quebec (57%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 7 to August 9, 2020, among 805 adults who attended Elementary School and/or High School in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:
Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.