The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. Sixty-six per cent of respondents to an online survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say the church is responsible for tragedies at residential schools, while 34 per sent say the federal government should be blamed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Deschatelets-NDC Archives

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. Sixty-six per cent of respondents to an online survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say the church is responsible for tragedies at residential schools, while 34 per sent say the federal government should be blamed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Deschatelets-NDC Archives

Most Canadians say church to blame for residential-school tragedies: poll

66 per cent of respondents to Leger survey say the church is responsible for the tragedies

A new survey suggests two-thirds of Canadians believe the churches that ran residential schools should bear responsibility for the abuses against children, including deaths, that happened there.

The online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies was carried out about a week after Tk’emlups te Secwepec First Nation said ground-penetrating radar has detected what are believed to be the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Over more than a century, some 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forcibly sent to government-funded, church-operated schools, where many suffered abuse and even death.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents to the survey say the church is responsible for the tragedies that took place at residential schools in Canada, while 34 per sent say the federal government should be blamed.

The online survey of 1,539 adult Canadians was conducted from June 4 to June 6 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.

Leger vice-president Andrew Enns said the fact that a majority of Canadians blame the church for what happened at residential schools comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on the Catholic Church to take responsibility for its role in Canada’s residential school system.

“In some respects, I think the prime minister may have been on to something in terms of encouraging the church to do a bit better on this file,” Enns said.

The Catholic Church operated the Kamloops Indian Residential School from 1890 to 1969. The Catholic Church ran the majority of residential schools in Canada, while others were run by the Anglican and United Church of Canada. The Catholic Church as a whole has never issued a formal apology for its role.

Trudeau said Friday that as a Catholic, he is deeply disappointed by the position that the church has taken and he’s urging it to release records on the schools and noted that he personally asked Pope Francis to consider an apology during his 2017 visit to the Vatican.

The survey also found that 80 per cent of respondents say what was found in Kamloops is only the tip of the iceberg and the same amount who said Canadians should feel ashamed residential schools, which were funded by the federal government, ever existed.

Seventy-seven of respondents say the government should order all the grounds surrounding former residential schools in Canada be systematically searched to find out if what happened in Kamloops also happened in other places.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated the residential school system and its legacy detailed in its nearly 4,000-page report the harsh mistreatment, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse, inflicted on First Nations, Métis and Inuit children that were forced to attend the schools away from their families and communities. Ongoing research by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation shows at least 4,100 died in the schools amid neglect.

Enns said Canadians are expecting the discovery of more grave sites like the one recently discovered in Kamloops.

“This is an issue that will be with us for some time and in particular if we start to make further discoveries,” he said. “Obviously, the government is going to have to take some action to start to, to really pursue some of these other potential unmarked grave locations across the country.”

Fifty-seven per cent of survey respondents agreed the discovery of the unmarked burial site in Kamloops and the potential for others like it made them question the whole moral foundation that Canada has been based on.

“My view is I found this number still fairly high,” Enns said. “What it means for Canada? What it means for being Canadian? I think there is the cause for this cause for some reflection, and at 57 per cent, it’s not an insignificant amount of the population.”

—Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Devastation over discovery at Kamloops residential school felt deeply throughout Shuswap

IndigenousReligionresidential schools

Just Posted

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

A crash at the intersection of Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road on June 15. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
Traffic stalled by Harvey Avenue crash in Kelowna

One lane is open as crews clean up after crash at Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road

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

(Facebook)
New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

Travel Penticton went to city council for support in increasing the tax on short-term stays to fund a convention bureau and affordable housing. (File photo)
Travel Penticton seeks to grow through increased hotel tax

The increased funds would go to creating a convention bureau and to affordable housing

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read