The vast majority of millennials consider themselves to be good citizens, but there is not nearly as much consensus on what that means — a disagreement often influenced by age, education and country of origin.

Abacus Data polled 1,004 Canadians of the Millennial Generation —aged 18 to 30 — on a variety of issues between Oct. 23 and 25. Overwhelmingly, respondents to the poll, carried out for The Huffington Post Canada, believed they were good citizens.

This may not necessarily be representative of the entire generation, however. People who consider themselves to be bad citizens are not likely to volunteer information to a pollster. And this kind of self-evaluation may not be accurate. For example, when surveyed, a majority of people tend to believe they are better drivers than the average person.

Nevertheless, not everyone in the poll believed themselves to be model Canadians. While 39 per cent said they were “very good” citizens, another 57 per cent said they were merely “good” citizens. Women were more modest than men: 35 per cent said they were very good citizens, compared with 43 per cent of men. And the more educated someone was, the more likely they were to consider themselves very good citizens.

Immigrant millennials, however, were less likely to call themselves very good citizens than millennials born in Canada (perhaps they are just more honest). Fully 11 per cent of immigrant millennials called themselves poor or very poor citizens, the highest proportion in any region or demographic group.

gen y canada citizenship

When it came to what being a good citizen means, millennials agreed paying taxes was at the top of list: 81 per cent said it was very important and 14 per cent said it was somewhat important. The proportion that considered taxes very important increased with age and education, but immigrants were less likely to consider this an important part of citizenship.

Tolerance was another area of consensus, with 94 per cent of respondents agreeing it is very or somewhat important. Again, the importance of tolerance increased based on the respondents’ age and level of education.

While more people were willing to say voting in every election was not an important part of being a good citizen, 74 per cent still said it was very important. Immigrants put a lower value on voting, while the most educated put a higher value on it.

Being involved with a political party, however, was seen as being nowhere near as important. Only 15 per cent of millennials said this was a very important, whereas half said it was not important. People in the Prairies and Ontario were more likely to see this as important than Quebecers, who were the least likely millennials in the country to put a premium on political activity (not surprisingly, considering the spate of scandals in the province involving politicians in recent months).

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What's most important to being a good citizen?


Younger millennials were less likely to value speaking one of Canada’s official languages than older millennials, but interestingly there was no major difference between those born in Canada and those who were not.

The more educated believed being informed about current events was more important than less-educated millennials did, while 56 per cent of respondents considered speaking out on important issues a very important part of being a good citizen. But donating to charities or being involved in social organizations were not seen as very important by most millennials.


Between one-quarter to one-third said that they identified a great deal with their city or province, while 79 per cent said they identified with their country a great deal or quite a lot. Only 20 per cent said they did not identify with Canada very much or at all, with that proportion rising to 29 per cent among immigrants and to a slim majority among Quebecers.

But millennials generally agree on what it means to be a good citizen: pay your taxes, be tolerant of others and vote (or at least intend to). Hopefully for the sake of government coffers and social order, millennials will follow through on their intentions.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

— Abacus Data has focused research on the Canadian Millennial. Read more here.

What do you think about this story? Join the conversation below or tweet us @HuffPostCanada with the #AskingY tag. We may feature your comments in an upcoming post. You can also check out our Tumblr, and our dedicated page for more from the Asking Y series.
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  • Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois

    <strong>Age:</strong> 22 <strong>From:</strong> Montreal He's the unofficial figurehead of the Quebec student movement that paralyzed the province, led to the downfall of some of Quebec's most powerful politicians and forced the government to back down on tuition hikes. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is a symbol of how the Millennial Generation may just be awakening politically, and changing our country in the process.

  • Sarika Cullis-Suzuki

    <strong>Age: </strong>29 <strong>From: </strong>Vancouver, B.C. The youngest of the Suzuki clan, <a href="">Sarika Cullis-Suzuki</a> is already adding her voice to the conversation around the environment, conservation and the health of the world's oceans. With climate change a looming political issue for decades to come, expect voices like hers to gain more influence and relevance.

  • Ruth-Ellen Brosseau

    <strong>Age: </strong>28 <strong>From: </strong>Hudson, Quebec One of the fresh-faced rookie MPs who swept into Parliament on the NDP's Orange Wave, Brosseau became a punchline when it was revealed she spent part of the election campaign vacationing in Vegas. The 28-year-old former campus bar manager has since turned her profile around to become a well-liked MP.

  • Brigette DePape

    <strong>Age:</strong> 23 <strong>From: </strong>Winnipeg Whether you agree or disagree with her, ex-Senate page Brigette DePape became a symbol for the disaffected angry Left with her simple but effective silent protest during the 2011 Throne Speech, where she disrupted Gov. Gen. David Johnston's speech by walking onto the floor holding up a 'Stop Harper' sign. DePape then went on to field a job offer from Michael Moore, and earlier this year also held a similar silent protest as Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith cast her ballot in Alberta's April election. Canada has not seen the last of Brigitte DePape.

  • Danielle Fong

    <strong>Age: </strong>25 <strong>From:</strong> Halifax Born and raised in Halifax, Fong dropped out of middle school and started at Dalhousie University when she was 12, and then headed to Princeton for her PhD by 17. Today, Fong is the founder and chief scientist at <a href="">LightSail Energy,</a> a much-buzzed-about renewable energy startup in California that focuses on efficient energy storage using compressed air. Her company just recently secured $37.5M in funding to further their efforts. You can <a href="">read more of her insights on her blog.</a>

  • Kunal Gupta

    <strong>Age: </strong>27 <strong>From: </strong>Toronto GQ, Vogue, CBS Sports, CTV, The Wall Street Journal -- just a short list of some of the brands that Kunal Gupta's <a href="">Polar Mobile</a> has worked with over the last five years. It's not news that Generation Y is hooked on their cellphones. Gupta, who started Polar Mobile in 2007, just figured this out before anyone else. The company provides media firms with a platform to launch branded mobile apps across smartphone and tablet devices, with more than 400 publishers, broadcasters and media brands in 12 countries counted as clients so far.

  • Xavier Dolan

    <strong>Age: </strong>23 <strong>From: </strong>Montreal At an age where most of his generation struggle to make their rent, Xavier Dolan picks up awards at the Cannes Film Festival. <em>J'ai tué ma mère</em>, his debut film about coming out, was a critical success, winning him three prizes at one of the world's premier film festivals. Dolan was 20 at the time, and he has since won subsequent acclaim for his sophomore effort, Heartbeats, and new film, Laurence Anyways, which tells the story of a man who wants to become a woman.

  • Picnicface

    <strong>From: </strong>Halifax It's no surprise that this generation's Kids In The Hall would emerge on YouTube. <a href="">Picnicface</a>, the Halifax-based comedy troupe won mainstream attention with a number of videos first posted to the online video site, including the satirical ad <a href="">"Powerthirst"</a> which got them more than 25 million views. The group turned this online success into a TV show with the Comedy Network, a book deal, a movie and more.

  • Drake

    <strong>Age: </strong>26 <strong>From: </strong>Toronto Who would've thought that one of the most successful rappers in the world would be a Canadian boy. The Toronto-born-and-raised superstar (also known as Aubrey Graham) has sold more than five million records, and is regularly mentioned in the same breath as rappers like Kanye West, Lil' Wayne and 50 Cent. Yes, he even brought us the hilariously millennial acronym YOLO (that's 'You only live once' for the uninitiated).

  • Sidney Crosby

    <strong>Age:</strong> 25 <strong>From: </strong>Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia The youngest-ever NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup, Sidney Crosby might be the best hockey player of his generation. Canadians will of course remember Sid the Kid for the goal. You know, the one that won Team Canada the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics -- the <a href="" target="_hplink">bonus</a> from which Crosby donated to his Sidney Crosby Foundation, which supports local charities in his hometown of Cole Harbour. A subsequent concussion sidelined Crosby for months, which may have finally forced the NHL to try to come to terms with the plague of head injuries in the sport.

  • Christine Sinclair

    <strong>Age:</strong> 29 <strong>From: </strong>Burnaby, B.C. Forget the NHL, one of the best and most memorable sports performances of 2012 happened on the Olympic soccer pitch in London. Christine Sinclair, the captain of Canada's women's soccer team and one of the best women to play the game, almost took Canada to victory in the Olympic semi-final game with her three-goal performance against the United States. A U.S. goal at the last minute dashed the team's hopes for gold, but Sinclair's performance earned her place in history, and although she was recently suspended for four games for her comments to the FIFA ref during that Olympic game, she remains a living national hero, all before the age of 30.

  • Hannah Taylor

    <strong>Age: </strong>16 <strong>From:</strong> Winnipeg Ok, technically she's younger than Gen Y, but we had to include Hannah Taylor. At 16, <a href="">the Winnipeg native</a> is barely old enough to hold down a job. But that hasn't stopped Taylor from raising millions for the homeless and shelters across Canada through her <a href="">Ladybug Foundation</a>, a charity she founded when she was eight. Taylor has spoken to groups around the world, advocating for the homeless and hoping to inspire other young people to take up the fight.

  • Bryce Williams

    <strong>Age:</strong> 23 <strong>From: </strong>Vancouver A surprise election win suddenly made Chief Bryce Williams, 23, one of Canada's native leaders to watch. Chief Williams will help the <a href="">Tsawwassen First Nation</a> navigate a series of potentially lucrative land deals that could see millions flow into the band's coffers. Williams will also have to ensure that the TFN remains a leader in native governance and a model for other First Nations bands seeking a more equitable relationship with various levels of government.

  • Ta'Kaiya Blaney

    <strong>Age: </strong>11 <strong>From: </strong>North Vancouver, B.C. One of the most visible figures opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline is so young we weren't sure we could include on a list of millennials. North Vancouver's Ta'Kaiya Blaney scored a minor online hit when she recorded 'Shallow Waters,' a song about the dangers of oil spills off the coast of B.C. The pipeline debate isn't going away anytime soon, and judging by her age, neither is Blaney.

  • Claudia Li

    <strong>Age:</strong> 26 <strong>From: </strong>Vancouver One of the founders of <a href="">Shark Truth</a>, Vancouver's Claudia Li has been an important voice in the fight to have shark fin sales banned in that city. Since 2009, Li's group has raised awareness about the practice of finning and she estimates they've saved thousands of sharks from being served up in B.C.'s banquet halls.

  • Devon Brooks

    <strong>Age: </strong>25 <strong>From: </strong>Vancouver At 25, Vancouver's Devon Brooks has a growing empire of blow-dry salons and is seen as one of the savviest young marketers/entrepreneurs in Canada, having been featured in Profit, Marketing Magazine, Chatelaine and more. Brooks also does a substantial amount of work raising awareness about violence against women, and speaks openly about her own experience of being raped at age 18 and terrorized by an ex-boyfriend, in an effort to normalize the conversation about the trauma women fight, face and survive in their lives.

  • Helene Campbell

    <strong>Age:</strong> 20 <strong>From: </strong>Ottawa Diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare disease that destroyed her lungs, Ottawa's Helene Campbell waited for months for a life-saving transplant. In the meantime, she blogged about her wait and her struggles with her disease, all in an effort to raise awareness about organ donation. The turning point came when Campbell tweeted to Justin Bieber and asked the pop star for his help to spread the message. Bieber didn't disappoint. In the coming months, Campbell, still waiting for her transplant, became the poster child for an often-ignored cause and a symbol of hope for those waiting for a transplant. Campbell's story ends on a happy note. Earlier this summer, she got her double-lung transplant. But she's not done: Campbell says she'll be writing a book and continues to promote the cause of organ donation. These days, she's known for her joyful dancing (<a href="">shown in the video</a>), and her seemingly tireless campaigning.