Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 04, 2017 - 8:00 am

From 2011-2016, use of Inuktitut in Nunavut increased: StatsCan

Numbers of people speaking Tagalog also rose by more than 50 per cent

This graph shows the breakdown of the number of speakers of Aboriginal languages in Canada.
This graph shows the breakdown of the number of speakers of Aboriginal languages in Canada.

More people are speaking Inuktitut in Nunavut.

That’s according to a Statistics Canada study on linguistic diversity, released Aug. 2, which found that from 2011 to 2016, the number of people speaking Inuktitut in Nunavut rose by 12.1 per cent.

StatsCan found that Cree is the most commonly spoken Aboriginal language at home.

The 2016 census, which provided data on close to 70 Aboriginal languages, found 83,985 people in Canada spoke Cree languages.

Inuktitut—the second-most spoken Aboriginal language—was spoken by 39,025 people, while 21,800 people spoke Ojibway, 13,855 people spoke Oji-Cree, 11,780 people spoke a Dene language and 10,960 people spoke Montagnais, the language of the Innu.

StatsCan found that, overall, the number of people who speak an Aboriginal language at home (228,770 people) is higher than the number of people who report having an Aboriginal mother tongue (213,230 people.)

“This difference, particularly significant among youths aged 0 to 14, shows the growing acquisition of an Aboriginal language as a second language,” StatsCan said.

In this age group, 44,000 people have an Aboriginal language as a mother tongue, while 55,970 people speak an Aboriginal language at least on a regular basis at home.

This increase suggests that in the future, more young Inuit may also learn Inuktitut as a second language, if they aren’t doing so already.

Among other things, StatsCan also looked at the rates of people speaking “other languages” at homes in the territories. It found the number of people who reported speaking Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines, rose sharply in Yukon by 105.4 per cent, in the Northwest Territories by 58.8 per cent and in Nunavut by 54.5 per cent.

The main “other” languages spoken at home were Dogrib (Tlicho) in the NWT (2,005 people) and Inuktitut in Nunavut (25,405 people.)

About one in five Canadians now speak more than one language at home, with that proportion increasing from 17.5 per cent in 2011 to 19.4 per cent in 2016.

StatsCan found that in about half of Nunavut homes, more than one language is spoken.

But English and French remain Canada’s main languages: 93.4 per cent of Canadians speak either English or French on a regular basis at home.

StatsCan says 4.3 per cent of Nunavut residents speak both French and English, with French-speakers comprising a little less than two per cent of the territory’s population.

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