Canada’s language landscape is changing, 2011 Census reports
For those worried about the future of the French language locally, it appears the Town of Hawkesbury is among the top towns in Canada when it comes to the number of people who say French is their first language.
Results from the 2011 Census, released Wednesday, October 24 found that nearly 77 per cent (8,280) of Hawkesbury residents who participated in the 2011 Census speak only French. Only 1,910 residents, or 16 per cent, reported only speaking English, while three per cent said they speak both official languages.
The statistics for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) as a whole indicate that out of a population of more than 84,000, 54,770 reported speaking only French, while 28,800 reported speaking English.
The Census data notes that when it comes to English-French bilingualism, just over 5,795,000 people in Canada reported being able to conduct a conversation in both of Canada's official languages, an increase of almost 350,000 from 2006.
These bilingual individuals represented 17.5 per cent of the total population, virtually unchanged from 17.4 per cent in 2006.
"The increase of the bilingual population was mainly a result of the increased number of Quebecers who reported being able to conduct a conversation in French and English," the Census reports.
In 2011, nearly 10 million people in Canada reported being able to conduct a conversation in French, compared with fewer than 9.6 million in 2006.
However, the Census says, the proportion of those being able to speak French edged down to 30.1 per cent in 2011 from 30.7 per cent five years earlier.
From 1981 to 2011, the Canadian population increased by nearly 38 per cent. By comparison, the population who reported being able to conduct a conversation in French grew by 30 per cent.
Over the same period, the population whose mother tongue was French grew by 16 per cent, while the population with French as their first official language spoken increased by 21 per cent.
In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal, the share of the population reporting that it spoke only French at home continued the decline that began in 2001. The proportion fell from 59.8 per cent in 2006 to 56.5 per cent in 2011.
At the same time, the relative share of Montréal's population reporting that it spoke only English at home fell from 10.8 per cent to 9.9 per cent. The share that reported speaking only a non-official language remained practically unchanged at seven per cent.
However, more people in Montréal reported speaking French in combination with a language other than English at home. In 2011, this was the case for 8.7 per cent of the population, up from 5.2 per cent in 2001 and 6.7 per cent in 2006. In 2011, more than 329,000 people in Montréal said they spoke French in combination with a language other than English, up from 239,000 in 2006.
Language landscape is changing
Census 2011 drew some other interesting conclusions when it comes to language, namely, that Canada is steadily becoming a nation of multiple languages.
More than 200 languages were reported in the 2011 Census of Population as a home language or mother tongue.
One-fifth of Canada's population, or nearly 6,630,000 people, spoke a language other than English or French at home in 2011, either alone or in some combination with English or French.
Of this total, 6,390,000 spoke an immigrant language at home, more than 213,000 people spoke an Aboriginal language, and nearly 25,000 reported using a sign language.
Also of this total, almost one-third or 2,145,000 people reported that the only language they spoke at home was a language other than English or French, that is, a non-official language.
The remaining two-thirds spoke a non-official language in combination with either English or French.
The home languages showing the strongest growth between 2006 and 2011 were primarily Asian. The population that reported speaking the Philippine-based language Tagalog increased by 64 per cent, the highest growth.
Seven other language groups also saw their numbers increase by more than 30 per cent. Including Mandarin (+50 per cent), Arabic (+47 per cent), Hindi (+44 per cent), Creole languages (+42 per cent), Bengali (+40 per cent), Persian (+33 per cent), and Spanish (+32 per cent).