Federal subsidies to the native peoples of Canada are $5.8 billion per year. Do you think these subsidies should be…?

Increased Maintained Reduced Abolished No Opinion

TOTAL (no. 1,002) 2% 20% 39% 29% 10%

Mother tongue

French only (no. 854) 1% 15% 43% 34% 7%

English/Other (no. 145) 6% 43% 18% 10% 23%

Would you say that the quality of life of natives on reserves of Quebec is compared to the rest of Quebecers?

Much better A little Better The same A little Worse Much worse No opinion

TOTAL (no. 1,002) 29% 19% 13% 19% 10% 10%

Mother tongue

French only (no. 854) 33% 19% 14% 17% 9% 8%

English/Other (no. 145) 8% 18% 8% 29% 17% 20%

Above we have reprinted the results of a poll that appeared in La Presse on Friday, March 12. The poll was conducted by SOM and commissioned by La Presse and Radio-Canada.

Let’s be up front about this poll. I, personally, consider this poll to be both ethnocentric and ignorant. Not only does it show a dismal lack of education or concern about native culture but it is also a slap in the face to any aboriginal person, people, nation and indeed to our race as a whole.

Think about these questions and the people who were asked to answer them. Once again the native is being asked to bow to the wishes and desires of the “Great White Father,” who will decide once again what is best for his Indian children. Are we once again to be left behind as not being capable enough to determine our own futures? Not one aboriginal response was included in this poll. Think about it.

Would not francophone Quebecois become understandably angry if only the Western provinces had a poll on whether or not to abolish the French language in Canada? What about a poll which just asked men if they think most women lie when they say they are raped?

Think of the anger in both cases. And you haven’t even crossed the race line yet.

Well, this poll crosses racial and cultural lines. You are polling non-aboriginal people on questions concerning rights and obligations granted to the First Nations of this land. These rights and obligations are recognized by the society and laws by which Canada governs herself. In the Supreme Court of Canada, some of these rights and obligations are said to supercede the Constitution.

These are our rights as aboriginals. How can you think as a non-aboriginal person that you have the right to determine whether or not we have these rights? To do so is to deny the validity of your own laws, standards, ethics and the morals which you live by.

If La Presse and Radio-Canada had any good taste, they would apologize to the aboriginal peoples for the bad taste in their questions. It shows that La Presse and other newspapers in Quebec have not done their jobs. As media, isn’t it our job to inform and educate on all aspects of Canadian life? For these attitudes to exist means that you have failed.

Only one good thing came out of this poll. It shows the ignorance of the Canadian people concerning aboriginal rights and living conditions. I think it may be time to add a native studies component to Quebec educational curriculums to address this problem. I also think newspapers such as La Presse have the moral and ethical responsibility to at least add a native section that talks about natives to help educate people so in the future these misunderstandings would hopefully be rare.