Friday, May 2, 2014

Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups

Canada NewsWire


TORONTO, May 2, 2014 /CNW/ - Leger Marketing conducted a national survey, sponsored by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), on the issues of religion, racism and intergroup relations in the last week of January 2014. Oversamples of Muslims, Jews and Aboriginal Peoples were included in the survey to provide insight into how these groups' views on the issues compare with Canada's Francophone population, its English-speaking population, and persons whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.

Religious Diversity: Results show that before the recent Quebec election, a significant portion of Francophones (mostly from Quebec) held negative attitudes towards religious diversity, with 54% agreeing that having many religious groups in Canada "is more of a liability than an asset". We do not know if that has changed during the course of the recent election. The survey also reveals that there is some anxiety amongst Canadians in general about religious diversity, with some 40% in total expressing this view. Of the other groups surveyed, Canadian Jews (23%) and Muslims (30%) are least likely to agree with the statement. Compared to other Canadians, a higher percentage of these two groups also report having "a good knowledge" of other religions and wanting "to learn more" about other religions.

Racism: Almost two in three Canadians (62%) report they are "worried" about a rise in racism. Concerns about racism and discrimination against particular groups such as Muslims, Aboriginal Peoples, immigrants and Jews vary greatly from one group to another. Members of a particular group appear more concerned about a rise in racism and discrimination directed against their own group. Jews show a relatively high level of concern about racism directed against other groups as well. Francophones also show a higher level of concern except as it relates to anti-Aboriginal sentiment.

Attitudes to Intergroup relations show a similar concern from one group to another although, overall, the relationship that concerns Canadians most is between Muslims and non-Muslims (53% are concerned). Otherwise the responses in this category show the same pattern as the attitudes towards racism and discrimination, each group expressing its major concern about their relationship with other Canadians, and Canadian Jews expressing a relatively high level of concern about all intergroup relationships. It is noteworthy that, overall, the Canadians surveyed report that most of their friends share the same ethnic background. This is particularly the case for Francophone respondents, with 76% reporting that most of their friends share the same ethnic background. However, persons whose mother tongue is neither English nor French, Aboriginal Peoples, Muslim and Jewish Canadians are least likely to report that most of their friends share the same background.

(See attached handout at http://bit.ly/R1QIU6 for further information on all the issues).

"This survey comprises part of our ongoing work with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to 'take the pulse' of the nation on issues relating to their core mandate. The results highlight why it continues to be important to bridge gaps among the various groups in our country", said Jack Jedwab, Executive Vice-President of ACS.

Rubin Friedman, Spokesperson for the Foundation agreed and added, "This confirms our current focus, and clearly demonstrates why we must continue and augment our work on fighting racism, as well as promoting harmonious intergroup and interfaith relations. In light of these results, our projects on interfaith and intergroup issues assume added significance for promoting the concept of a shared Canadian identity and encouragement of citizenship based on equality, mutual respect and civility."

SOURCE Canadian Race Relations Foundation