A resident of the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve is frustrated over an encounter with a Statistics Canada census enumerator that took place last week.

A resident of the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve is frustrated over an encounter with a Statistics Canada census enumerator that took place last week.

Stats Can targets First Nations differently

Census canvasser frustrates reserve resident

A Semiahmoo First Nation woman says she will be lodging a complaint with Statistics Canada, following a frustrating visit by an aggressive census enumerator.

Roxanne Charles claims the canvasser kept her on her doorstep last Friday afternoon, insisting she had to complete a census questionnaire then and there.

Charles – a single mother of two who is working to complete her bachelor of fine arts degree at Kwantlen University – said she told the woman the timing of the visit was inconvenient and wondered why she couldn’t fill out the census online.

She said the canvasser then threatened to call the police and said she faced a $1,000 fine if she didn’t co-operate.

Contacted this week, Statistics Canada communications manager Peter Liang said such an approach does not represent policy nor training of canvassers. He urged Charles to call a census help line to report the incident.

“We deal with complaints of this nature very promptly,” he said. “This is very serious.”

But the issue has also raised the fact – unknown to Charles until now – that reserve residents are treated differently in the census than many other Canadians.

This year, a majority of Canadian households (60 per cent) were contacted by letter offering either a paper or online option for filling out Canada Census 2011, while some 20 per cent of households were mailed a paper questionnaire. But remaining households are being counted through more traditional canvasser operations, Liang said.

“For residents on reserves… respondents are contacted directly by an enumerator and the questionnaire is completed at the dwelling, generally by interview,” he said. “This takes place in northern and remote areas and on reserves, Indian settlements, Indian Government Districts and terres réservées.”

Liang said the methods used for collecting census information from different demographic groups in Canada are determined by what has proven successful in previous counts. For instance, the 2006 census was the first that offered an online option, and this year the online census was offered to those that had shown the greatest response.

“On reserves, (enumeration) is the methodology that has worked best from past experience.”

Liang noted, however, that reserve residents also have the online option, but added that since the information collected is vital to their communities, follow-up visits are conducted.

Charles – who noted Friday’s visit was her first contact with Statistics Canada about the current census – said that wasn’t the message she received from the enumerator. The woman told her the questionnaire would take 20 minutes, and said they could fill it out together on Charles’s porch.

“I said that now wouldn’t be a good time and asked why I couldn’t fill it out online, like I’d heard about on the radio,” Charles said. “She said that because I lived on the reserve, I didn’t have that option and I had do it with her. I told her I thought that was discriminatory. That’s when she said, ‘if you don’t fill it out with me, I will call the police and they’ll be coming here and you’ll be issued a fine of $1,000.’”

Liang said that if that was the information Charles had been given, it was “completely wrong.”

He emphasized that while, by law, everyone must complete the census, imposing penalties is not part of its mandate.

“Only after every reasonable attempt has been made to collect census information would we consider referring a case to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and it would be up to them to decide what they wanted to do.”

Charles told Peace Arch News that – while she intends to follow up the incident with a complaint to Statistics Canada – she is more than willing to comply with a reasonable request for information from them.

“I don’t have a problem with having to fill out the census.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock Rotary Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula (front right) with other club and community volunteers at the launch of the free hot lunch program at the city parking lot at Russell Avenue and Johnston Road on May 21. (File photo)
Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Recipients ‘are very good people… going through some tough times’

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Police called to Surrey home for report of weapon, man taken into custody

Surrey RCMP say people evacuated from house, one found in a bedroom ‘hiding from police’

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

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

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read