Wanda Robson’s older sister Viola Desmond, the civil rights pioneer and businesswoman, is the new face of the $10 bill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadians fail quiz on prominent BIPOC figures in history

Only 160 of 1,000 respondents were able to pass a quiz on racialized Canadians

Viola Desmond has appeared on newly printed $10 bills for nearly two years, but only 29 per cent of Canadians are familiar with the civil rights crusader and how she challenged racial segregation in the 1940s.

Ahead of Canada Day – in a year that has quickly become one of reckoning for systemic racism – Historica Canada has released quiz results shedding light on just how little Canadians know about Indigenous, Black and other Canadians of colour who helped transform this country for the better.

Only 16 per cent of the 1,000 adult respondents surveyed were able to pass the quiz, which included 24 questions on a variety of topics from notable figured to innovations and health.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents knew that Canadian contributions were key to the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s, while 35 per cent recognized Clara Hughes – a decorated Olympian who has championed mental health awareness.

But when it came to marginalized people, few knew who they were or their achievements, the poll results show.

Only six per cent of those surveyed recognized Indigenous filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin. Five per cent were familiar with Baltej Dhillon, the first RCMP officer to wear a turban, although recognition increased to 12 per cent among British Columbian respondents.

Sixteen per cent recognized Willie O’Ree, the first Black NHL player born in 1935 in Fredericton, N.B.

Canada’s youngest adults were more likely than their older counterparts to correctly identify that 15-year-old Autumn Peltier was named “chief water commissioner” by the Anishinabek Nation in 2019, while Boomers were more likely to know that Chief Dan George was the first Indigenous actor to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada, said the intent of the poll was to draw attention to Canadians “who made a lasting mark on Canada and the world” by fighting against racism and contributing to medicine and health.

“Those are areas where there isn’t great awareness of Canadian achievements,” Wilson-Smith said in a statement.

“Only four per cent of respondents, for example, know that Mary Two-Axe Earley achieved constitutional change for women marginalized by the Indian Act. We don’t expect Canadians to know all of these stories – but we hope they take time to learn them.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Canada Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Hagensborg Water District purchases new fire truck; prepares for conversion to CCRD

Approximately $1.3 million of the district’s infrastructure grant has been transferred to the CCRD.

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read