Ignorance of history creates patriotic bliss (Canada)

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It's a familiar lament in Canada: Declining public knowledge about the country's history is leading to a diminished sense of national pride.

But a new survey by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies suggests the long-held assumption may not be true, and relative ignorance about Canada's past may actually foster a certain patriotic bliss.

The telephone survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted Oct. 5-8 by Léger Marketing, showed that 73 per cent of those with just elementary-level schooling strongly agreed with the statement: "I am proud of the history of Canada."

Nearly 60 per cent of those with only a high school education expressed strong agreement with the statement. But fewer than half the respondents with college or university credentials - ranging from 40 to 49 per cent - voiced such a strong sense of pride in our history.

The results are considered accurate to within 3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"Those who argue that people lack pride in the country and its history because they lack awareness of it might be startled to learn that those with less education - which can safely be equated with less knowledge - are most likely to express pride in the country's history," said Jack Jedwab, the association's executive director. "More awareness of Canada's history may reduce pride in the country rather than augment it."

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