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A majority of Canadians believe specific types of costumes are “inappropriate” for both kids and adults.

Vancouver, BC – More than three-in-four Canadians will take part in activities to celebrate Halloween this year, with Albertans leading the country as the top provider of candy for “trick-or-treating” kids, a new Canada-wide Insights West poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample also found that most Canadians believe in the afterlife and angels, that terrorism and nuclear war are currently our biggest fears, and that specific types of costumes are deemed “inappropriate” for both kids and adults.

The Celebration

More than half of Canadians (54%) plan to hand out candy to kids this Halloween. About a third will carve pumpkins (35%), decorate their home (also 35%) and watch scary movies (33%).

Other activities that will be enjoyed are sending kids trick-or-treating (23%), attending, or throwing, a Halloween party (20%), visiting Halloween attractions in the community (also 20%), visiting a pumpkin patch (14%) and lighting fireworks (7%).

Seven-in-ten Albertans (72%) will provide sweets to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. Quebecers (32%) are the least likely to partake in this activity across the country.

Across the country, 16% of Canadians say they will wear a costume at work to celebrate Halloween—including 25% of British Columbians and 22% of Canadians aged 18-to-34.


More than half of Canadians acknowledge being “very” or “somewhat” afraid of terrorism (58%) and nuclear war (53%, including 61% among those aged 55 and over).

More than two-in-five Canadians are afraid of heights (44%), snakes (also 44%) and being the victims of a crime (41%, including 56% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan), while smaller proportions fear public speaking (39%), death (38%), spiders (33%), drowning (also 33%), confined spaces (32%), insects (28%), mice (26%), crowds (25%), germs (24%) and strangers (21%).

Fewer than one-in-five Canadians are fearful of being alone (19%), flying (also 19%), blood (18%), ghosts (also 18%), needles or getting shots (also 18%), darkness (16%), open water (13%), clowns (12%), dogs (11%), open spaces (7%), fish (7%) or birds (6%).

When asked how they have dealt with some of their fears in the past, three-in-ten Canadians (30%) say they asked another person to get rid of an insect, bug or spider—a proportion that rises to 43% among women. About one-in-four (23%) say they altered plans to avoid a thing or situation that they feared, and 17% say they experienced a “panic attack” to avoid doing something out of fear.

Beliefs and Experiences

More than three-in-five Canadians believe that there is some form of life after death (62%), while 57% believe in angels. Smaller proportions of residents believe in ghosts (47%), haunted places (also 47%), demonic spirits (43%) and the Devil or Satan (41%), while a minuscule proportion (7%) believes in zombies.

About one-in-five Canadians (19%) say they have experienced some form of haunting, including 30% of Atlantic Canadians and 26% of Quebecers. Fewer residents say they have seen a ghost (13%), the spirit of a deceased individual (also 13%) or an angel (5%).

Proper Costumes For Kids and Adults

Across the country, more than three-in-five Canadians (63%) believe a costume for children that represents an ethnic stereotype is “inappropriate”, and slightly more than half (51%) feel the same way about a costume that entails changing the colour of the child’s skin.

Almost half of Canadians think costumes where the child carries toy or replica weapons (48%) or that refer to a culture that is not the child’s own (46%) are “inappropriate”, while more than a third (35%) believe a costume that represents a social stereotype is also “inappropriate.”

When asked about the same five types of costumes being used by adults, Canadians reacted in the same way to representing ethnic stereotypes (63% find this “inappropriate” in an adult’s costume), changing the colour of the adult’s skin (51%), referring to a culture that is not the adult’s own (48%) and carrying toy or replica weapons (47%). About a third (32%) find fault with adults wearing a costume that represents a social stereotype.

Albertans are more likely to say they have no problem with costumes that entail changing a person’s skin colour or referring to a different culture, while British Columbians are more likely to find them inappropriate.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from October 18 to October 22, 2017, among 1,001 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points for the entire sample, nineteen times out of twenty. View the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West