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

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

Eternity Medical Equipment’s ECAN95 masks have received Health Canada approval and CSA certification. (Eternity Medical Equipment photo)
South Surrey N-95 equivalent manufacturer launches mask recycling program

Eternity Medical Equipment partners with Ontario-based LifeCycle Revive

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Most Read