These 6 graphics show how language is changing in Canada

A quarter of Canadians now speak a native language other than English or French, according to newly released census data on the language marking a record high.

These six graphs — based on Statistics Canada data from the 2021 Census — provide insight into languages ​​Canadians can speak and which ones they use at home.

In Quebec, bilingualism has increased by 1.9 percentage points since the 2016 census. It comes after Quebec passed Bill 96 earlier this year to strengthen the French language in the province, particularly in the courts, businesses and among immigrants to the province.

Among the indigenous languages ​​in Canada, knowledge of Inuktitut, Oji-Cree, and Nehiyawewin (Plains Cree) is highest, according to the latest census data. Statistics Canada also indicated that the number of Canadians who can speak an Indigenous language has decreased slightly.

However, the agency has cautioned against comparing numbers from previous censuses, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has limited its ability to accurately count First Nations and Indigenous communities.

The agency also cited heat waves and wildfires in British Columbia and northern Ontario as challenges during the census process. Accurate comparisons cannot be made until September, according to Statistics Canada.

Language data offers a glimpse into the diversity of Canada. Using the Language Diversity Index – which measures the probability that two random people have the same mother tongue – we can calculate how linguistically diverse each province is.

Calculations by CBC News show that Nunavut and Ontario have the highest index scores, while Newfoundland and Labrador have the lowest.

The number of Canadians who speak Mandarin, Punjabi or Spanish at home has seen the largest increase since the 2016 census – and these languages ​​remain among the top non-official languages ​​spoken in Canada. (Cantonese, the third most common non-official language spoken at home in Canada, saw a slight decline between 2016 and 2021.)

Several other languages ​​have also increased since the last census. For example, the number of Canadians speaking Haitian Creole is 17 times higher than in 2016. This massive increase comes after thousands of Haitian immigrants came to Canada in recent years, many have fled the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies in the United States.

Spoken primarily by the Philippines, Tagalog is the most common non-official language spoken at home in three provinces and territories – Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Mandarin, the official language of China, is most widely spoken in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The number of people speaking sign languages ​​in Canada – including American Sign Language (ASL) – has increased by about 1,000 people.

In Saskatchewan, for example, it was sign language interpreters used for the first time during televised press conferences that keep the public updated on the COVID-19 pandemic and expose more people to the language.

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