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.

Just Posted

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Kelowna city councillor suggests bringing back photo radar

Gail Given says it could help generate traffic fine revenue for the city—and make roads safer

‘Game changer” research deal between three B.C. Interior universities

UBCO, TRU, UNBC say deal will help innovation, research, aid students and increase quality of life

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Lind nets three in Rockets win; Dube and Foote named to Canada’s roster

Kole Lind returns from national junior camp to lead Rockets to victory in P.A.

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Annual Christmas meal held as Kelowna Gospel Mission

The meal will be held tomorrow from 12 to 6 p.m.

Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Most Read