UPDATED: One-sixth of B.C. residents don’t speak English at home

Latest Statistics Canada numbers suggest Aboriginal languages are showing a revival

Close to one-third of British Columbians now report neither English nor French as their mother tongue, Statistics Canada data show.

According to figures released Tuesday, 27.5 per cent of the province’s residents had a non-official language as their mother tongue.

That proportion was up in urban centres like Vancouver, with 41.8 per cent, and in Abbotsford-Mission, with 28.2 per cent.

Outside the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Kelowna had the highest proportion of immigrant languages as their mother tongues.

B.C. is second to only Nunavut for the highest proportion of immigrant languages spoken at home.

Punjabi is the most popular language spoken in B.C., followed by Mandarin and Cantonese.

French as both a mother tongue and a language spoken at home declined Canada-wide. However, bilingualism remained strong: a record 18 per cent of Canadians were fluent in both official languages.

B.C sits at second to last in French as a mother tongue: 1.4 per cent.

The top immigrant languages in Canada were Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagolog, Arabic, Persian, Hindi and Urdu, all of which have seen a more than 25 per cent increase in popularity.

Revival of Aboriginal languages

More people than ever are learning Aboriginal languages.

Statistics Canada found that in youth ages zero to 14, 55,970 speak Aboriginal languages at home while only 44,000 have them as mother tongues.

That, to UBC professor Bonny Norton, signifies that recent efforts to teach Aboriginal youth their languages have shown success.

RELATED: Meá:ylexw: Reviving an indigenous language on the brink of extinction

”I would like to think that with the focus on the reconciliation… Aboriginal peoples perception of their value in the larger Canadian society and the value of their languages has gone up,” she said. “Aboriginal people are feeling a sense of ownership for the language.”

Of the 70 Aboriginal languages tracked by Statistics Canada, Cree languages are the most commonly spoken at home.

Teaching these to youth now is crucial, Norton said. Much of the language knowledge in Aboriginal communities was lost during as a result of residential schools.

“When you lose mother tongue speakers that’s a huge loss,” she said. “I think certainly that would be increasingly endangered.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Police watchdog clears West Shore RCMP in altercation that led to man needing 82 staples

The man pretended he had a weapon he would use against the police

Vehicle bursts into flames due to mechanical failure, occupants escape injury

View Royal firefighters were on scene less than five minutes after the first 911 call

No one injured in Saanich townhouse fire

Blaze may have been connected to fireplace use

West Shore RCMP snag suspect in early morning mail theft

Citizen call leads officers to quickly locate suspect

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

Most Read