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)

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

Just Posted

UVic Department of Anthropology chair and professor, April Nowell, at home with a copy of her new book, Growing Up In the Ice Age. (Courtesy of April Nowell)
New book by University of Victoria professor explores lives of Ice Age children

April Nowell spent two decades researching archaeological evidence of children, teens

Saanich Neighbourhood Place is hoping to open the doors to its new centre in July, pending final council approval. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich childcare agency awaits final approval on much-needed new facility

Saanich Neighbourhood Place keen to open new centre this summer, expand options for community

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

Victoria police are searching for high-risk missing woman Chloe Morrison who was last seen in Victoria June 13. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Chloe Morrison, last seen in Victoria

Morrison, 25, was last seen shortly after 2 p.m. June 13

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read