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Most Canadians believe residential school sites should be investigated: poll

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 2:08 pm EDT

Children shoes are arranged during a candlelight vigil in Toronto to mourn and remember the 215 children whose remains were found on a former residential school site in Kamloops. CITYNEWS/Craig Wadman

The vast majority of Canadians believe all residential school sites should be investigated by independent third parties, and police forces should launch criminal investigations to determine if charges should be laid, according to a new poll.

The survey was taken by Maru Public Opinion following the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Over half of Canadians — 55 per cent — believe what occurred during the residential school era was an act of genocide. The Federal NDP has called on the federal government to recognize what happened at residential schools as genocide.

NDP MP Leah Gazan is tabling the motion Thursday, asking fellow lawmakers to unanimously acknowledge the institutions’ history as the deliberate, systematic destruction of a cultural group.

Most Canadians, a total of 73 per cent, were profoundly emotionally impacted by the horrific discovery in Kamloops and 58 per cent of those surveyed said this event shifted how they view Indigenous people.

Over two-thirds said they don’t want to just acknowledge what happened, apologize and move on.

The majority (59 per cent) believe there should be substantial financial restitution to the survivors of residential schools that should be equally paid by the Christian churches who ran the schools and the federal government who designed and funded the schools.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently pledged $27 million to help unearth gravesites at other residential schools across the country.

The survey of 1,513 randomly selected Canadian adults was conducted from June 4 to June 7 with an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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