National Research: National pride outpaces knowledge when it comes to Canada
Friday, January 29, 2016

Some Canadians may not be sure on what date their country came into existence and may be sketchy about the opening lines of their national anthem, but a new poll suggests that hasn’t prevented them from feeling significant pride in the place they call home.

The online survey, conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Historica Canada, found some striking disparities between what respondents knew about their country and the way they felt about it.

Positive sentiment ran high among poll respondents, with 80 per cent saying citizens ought to show more patriotism for their home and native land. The survey found 93 per cent of participants felt they had freedom of expression in Canada, while the same number felt the country was welcoming toward all cultures.

Survey participants also voiced strong agreement with the following statements:

  • Canadians were polite (92 per cent),
  • Canadians were proud of their diverse population (86 per cent);
  • and possessed of a sense of uniquely Canadian identity (86 per cent).

Poll respondents also gave Canada high marks for pride in their heritage, with 89 per cent identifying this as a national trait. But pride didn’t necessarily amount to knowledge of basic historical facts, the poll suggested, as 44 per cent of respondents could not name 2017 as the date of Canada’s 150th anniversary and 11 per cent could not pick out the opening lines of “O Canada.”

The Ipsos poll of 1,001 online respondents was conducted between June 17 and 19. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

While the survey results may appear contradictory at first glance, historians said knowledge of key dates doesn’t necessarily equate to lack of interest in Canada’s past. Historica Canada President Anthony Wilson-Smith lamented the fact that 1867 is not burned into the collective memory as the date of Confederation, but said the knowledge gap is not as alarming as it might have been.

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