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

B.C. man convicted in fatal boat crash awaiting appeal date

Leon Reinbrecht maintains rights breached by delays

JoeAnna’s House fundraising campaign reaches $4.5 million

Offering ‘home away from home’ for families of KGH patients

Food truck options to expand in Salmon Arm

City council votes in new food truck regulations

New commercial development coming to council

Liquor outlet and 60-seat restaurant among uses proposed by applicant

Kelowna West byelection called for Feb. 14

Four candidate race to replace departed former B.C. premier Christy Clark

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

KIJHL prospects shine in showcase game

Top players for Kootenay and Okanagan conferences put best skate forward.

Challenge issued to ‘Read for 15’

Regional district libraries to compete by asking patrons to read for 15 minutes on Jan. 26 and 27.

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Public asked to report bat sightings

White nose syndrome leads to bats flying in winter or death.

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

Most Read