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Languages of Canada
OfficialEnglish and French
Semi-officialNorthwest Territories: Cree, Dënësųłıné, Dene Yatıé/Zhatıé, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́, Tłįchǫ Yatıì
Nova Scotia: Mi'kmawi'simk[nb 2]
Nunavut: Inuktut (Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut)
IndigenousApprox. 104 (by language family):
VernacularCanadian English[can 1]
Canadian French[can 2]
Add'l languages[can 3]
SignedSigned English, Signed French;
Keyboard layout
US English

Canadian French

Canadian Multilingual Standard (rare)

Inuktitut Naqittaut

A multitude of languages have always been spoken in Canada. Prior to Confederation, the territories that would become Canada were home to over 70 distinct languages across 12 or so language families. Today, a majority of those indigenous languages are still spoken; however, most are endangered and only about 0.6% of the Canadian population report an Indigenous language as their mother tongue.[nb 3] Since the establishment of the Canadian state, English and French have been the co-official languages and are, by far, the most-spoken languages in the country.

According to the 2016 census, English and French are the mother tongues of 56.0% and 21.4% of Canadians respectively.[4] In total, 86.2% of Canadians have a working knowledge of English, while 29.8% have a working knowledge of French.[5] Under the Official Languages Act of 1969, both English and French have official status throughout Canada in respect of federal government services and most courts. All federal legislation is enacted bilingually. Provincially, only in New Brunswick are both English and French official to the same extent. French is Quebec's official language,[6] although legislation is enacted in both French and English and court proceedings may be conducted in either language. English is the official language of Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, but government services are available in French in many regions of each, particularly in regions and cities where Francophones form the majority. Legislation is enacted in both languages and courts conduct cases in both. In 2022, Nova Scotia recognized Mi'kmawi'simk as the first language of the province,[1][2] and maintains two provincial language secretariats: the Office of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie (French language) and the Office of Gaelic Affairs (Canadian Gaelic). The remaining provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador) do not have an official provincial language per se but government is primarily English-speaking. Territorially, both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have official Indigenous languages alongside French and English: Inuktut (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun) in Nunavut[7] and, in the NWT, nine others (Cree, Dënësųłıné, Dene Yatıé/Zhatıé,[nb 1] Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́,[nb 1] and Tłįchǫ Yatıì).[9]

Canada's official languages commissioner (the federal government official charged with monitoring the two languages) said in 2009, "[I]n the same way that race is at the core of what it means to be American and at the core of an American experience and class is at the core of British experience, I think that language is at the core of Canadian experience."[10] To assist in more accurately monitoring the two official languages, Canada's census collects a number of demolinguistic descriptors not enumerated in the censuses of most other countries, including home language, mother tongue, first official language, and language of work.

Canada's linguistic diversity extends beyond English, French and numerous Indigenous languages. "In Canada, 4.7 million people (14.2% of the population) reported speaking a language other than English or French most often at home and 1.9 million people (5.8%) reported speaking such a language on a regular basis as a second language (in addition to their main home language, English or French). In all, 20.0% of Canada's population reported speaking a language other than English or French at home. For roughly 6.4 million people, the other language was an immigrant language, spoken most often or on a regular basis at home, alone or together with English or French whereas for more than 213,000 people, the other language was an Indigenous language. Finally, the number of people reporting sign languages as the languages spoken at home was nearly 25,000 people (15,000 most often and 9,800 on a regular basis)."[nb 4]

The two official languages

Home language: rates of language use 1971–2011

Languages – Statistics Canada.[12]

The percentage of the population speaking English, French or both languages most often at home has declined since 1986; the decline has been greatest for French. The proportion of the population who speak neither English nor French in the home has increased. Geographically, this trend remains constant, as usage of English and French have declined in both English and French speaking regions of the country, but French has declined more rapidly both inside and outside Quebec. The table below shows the percentage of the total Canadian population who speak Canada's official languages most often at home from 1971 to 2006.[13] Note that there are nuances between "language most spoken at home", "mother-language" and "first official language": data is collected for all three, which together provide a more detailed and complete picture of language-use in Canada.

Use of English

Further information: Canadian English

In 2011, just under 21.5 million Canadians, representing 65% of the population, spoke English most of the time at home, while 58% declared it their mother language.[14] English is the major language everywhere in Canada except Quebec and Nunavut, and most Canadians (85%) can speak English.[15] While English is not the preferred language in Quebec, 36.1% of Québécois can speak English.[16] Nationally, Francophones are five times more likely to speak English than Anglophones are to speak French – 44% and 9% respectively.[17] Only 3.2% of Canada's English-speaking population resides in Quebec—mostly in Montreal.[nb 5]

In 2011, 28.4 million Canadians had knowledge of English while only 21.6 million Canadians spoke it most often at home.[18][19]

Use of French

Further information: Canadian French and French language in Canada

In 2011, just over 7.1 million Canadians spoke French most often at home, this was a rise of 4.2%, although the proportion of people in Canada who spoke French "most often" at home fell slightly from 21.7% to 21.5% . Of these, about 6.1 million or 85% resided in Quebec.[20] Outside Quebec, the largest French-speaking populations are found in New Brunswick (which is home to 3.1% of Canada's Francophones) and Ontario (4.2%, residing primarily in the eastern and northeastern parts of the province and in Toronto and Ottawa). Overall, 22% of people in Canada declare French to be their mother language, while one in three Canadians speak French and 70% are unilingual Anglophones.[nb 6] Smaller indigenous French-speaking communities exist in some other provinces.[21] For example, a vestigial community exists on Newfoundland's Port au Port Peninsula, a remnant of the "French Shore" along the island's west coast.

The percentage of the population who speak French both by mother tongue and home language has decreased over the past three decades. Whereas the number of those who speak English at home is higher than the number of people whose mother tongue is English, the opposite is true for Francophones. There are fewer people who speak French at home, than learned French after birth.[22]

Ethnic diversity is growing in French Canada but still lags behind the English-speaking parts of the country. In 2006, 91.5% of Quebecers considered themselves to be of either "French" or "Canadian" origin. As a result of the growth in immigration, since the 1970s, from countries in which French is a widely used language, 3.4% of Quebecers indicated that they were of Haitian, Belgian, Swiss, Lebanese or Moroccan origin.[23] Other groups of non-francophone immigrants (Irish Catholics, Italian, Portuguese, etc.) have also assimilated into French over the generations. The Irish, who started arriving in large numbers in Quebec in the 1830s, were the first such group, which explains why it has been possible for Quebec to have had five premiers of Irish ethnic origin: John Jones Ross (1884–87), Edmund James Flynn (1896–97), Daniel Johnson Sr. (1966–68), Pierre-Marc Johnson (1985), and Daniel Johnson Jr. (1994).

In 1991, due to linguistic assimilation of Francophones outside Quebec, over one million Canadians who claimed English as their mother tongue were of French ethnic origin (1991 Census).

Bilingualism and multilingualism versus English–French bilingualism

According to the 2011 census, 98.2% of Canadian residents have knowledge of one or both of the country's two official languages,[15] Between 2006 and 2011, the number of persons who reported being able to conduct a conversation in both of Canada's official languages increased by nearly 350,000 to 5.8 million. The bilingualism rate of the Canadian population edged up from 17.4% in 2006 to 17.5% in 2011.[11] This growth of English-French bilingualism in Canada was mainly due to the increased number of Quebecers who reported being able to conduct a conversation in English and French.[11]

Bilingualism with regard to nonofficial languages also increased, most individuals speaking English plus an immigrant language such as Punjabi or Mandarin.[26]

Geographic distribution of English–French bilingualism

Further information: Bilingual belt

Proportion of bilingual Canadians in Quebec and the rest of Canada compared to overall population distribution 1941–2016
Year # Bilingual Canadians % Quebec % Rest of Canada Total # Canadians % Quebec % Rest of Canada
1941[27][28] 1,472,858 59.9% 39.5% 11,506,700 29.0% 71.0%
1951[29] 1,727,400 60.1% 39.9% 14,009,400 28.9% 71.1%
1961[30] 2,231,200 60.0% 40.0% 18,238,200 28.8% 71.2%
1971[31] 2,900,150 57.4% 42.6% 21,568,310 27.9% 72.1%
1981[32] 3,681,955 56.1% 43.9% 24,083,495 26.4% 73.6%
1986[33] 4,056,155 54.9% 45.1% 25,022,005 25.8% 74.2%
1991[34] 4,398,655 54.9% 45.1% 26,994,045 25.2% 74.8%
1996[35] 4,841,320 55.0% 45.0% 28,528,120 24.2% 75.8%
2001[36] 5,231,575 55.6% 44.0% 29,639,030 24.0% 76.0%
2006[37] 5,448,850 55.4% 44.6% 31,241,030 23.8% 76.2%
2016[38] 6,251,485 57.9% 42.1% 34,767,255 23.2% 76.8%

According to the 2011 census, 94.3% of Quebecers have knowledge of French, and 47.2% have knowledge of English.[15] Bilingualism (of the two official languages) is largely limited to Quebec itself, and to a strip of territory sometimes referred to as the "bilingual belt", that stretches east from Quebec into northern New Brunswick and west into parts of Ottawa and northeastern Ontario. 85% of bilingual Canadians live within Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.[15] A majority of all bilingual Canadians, (57.4%) are themselves Quebecers,[15] and a high percentage of the bilingual population in the rest of Canada resides in close proximity to the Quebec border.

Similarly, the rate of bilingualism in Quebec has risen higher, and more quickly than in the rest of Canada. In Quebec, the rate of bilingualism has increased from 26% of the population being able to speak English and French in 1951 to 42.5% in 2011.[15] As of 2011, in the rest of Canada (excluding Quebec) the rate of bilingualism was 7.5%.[15]

Percentage of French-English bilingualism by province/territory (2016 census)
Province/territory % of population Total number Ref.
Quebec 44.5% 3,586,410 [39]
New Brunswick 34% 249,950 [40]
Northwest Territories 14% 4,900 [41]
Prince Edward Island 13% 17,840 [42]
Ontario 11.2% 1,490,390 [43]
Nova Scotia 10.5% 95,380 [44]
Yukon 10.3% 4,275 [45]
Manitoba 9% 108,460 [46]
Alberta 7% 264,720 [47]
British Columbia 7% 314,925 [48]
Saskatchewan 5% 51,560 [49]
Newfoundland and Labrador 5% 25,940 [50]
Nunavut 4.3% 1,525 [51]
CanadaTotal 17.9% 6,216,065 [39]

English–French bilingualism rates

English–French bilingualism is highest among members of local linguistic minorities. It is very uncommon for Canadians to be capable of speaking only the minority official language of their region (French outside Quebec or English in Quebec). Only 1.5% of Canadians are able to speak only the minority official language, and of these most (90%) live in the bilingual belt.[52]

As the table below shows, rates of bilingualism are much higher among individuals who belong to the linguistic minority group for their region of Canada, than among members of the local linguistic majority. For example, within Quebec around 37% of bilingual Canadians are Francophones, whereas Francophones only represent 4.5% of the population outside Quebec.[53]

Rates of French-English bilingualism among linguistic groups.[54]
Anglophones Francophones Allophones
Quebec 66.1% 36.6% 50.4%
Rest of Canada 7.1% 85.1% 5.7%

Official language minority communities

French-speaking Canadians from outside Quebec and English-speaking Quebecers are, together, the official language minority communities. These communities are:

Official language minority communities
Jurisdiction Community
 Quebec Anglo-Quebecers
 Ontario Franco-Ontarians / Ontarois
 Manitoba Franco-Manitobans
 Saskatchewan Fransaskois
 Alberta Franco-Albertans
 British Columbia Franco-Colombians
 Yukon Franco-Yukonnais
 Northwest Territories Franco-Ténois
 Nunavut Franco-Nunavois
 Newfoundland and Labrador Franco-Terreneuviens
 New Brunswick,  Prince Edward Island,  Nova Scotia Acadiens
 New Brunswick (Madawaska) Brayons
Michif Piyii:a  Manitoba,  Alberta,  British Columbia,
 Northwest Territories,  Ontario,  Saskatchewan
Notes:a The Métis homeland.[58][59][60]

French outside Quebec

The language continuity index represents the relationship between the number of people who speak French most often at home and the number for whom French is their mother tongue. A continuity index of less than one indicates that French has more losses than gains – that more people with French as a mother tongue speak another language at home. Outside Quebec, New Brunswick has the highest French language continuity ratio. British Columbia and Saskatchewan have the lowest French language continuity ratio and thus the lowest retention of French. From 1971 to 2011, the overall ratio for French language continuity outside Quebec declined from 0.73 to 0.45. Declines were the greatest for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland.

French language continuity ratio 1971–2011[61][62]
Province/Territory 1971 1981 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2021
New Brunswick 0.92 0.93 0.93 0.92 0.91 0.91 0.89 0.89
Quebec - - 1.01 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.03 1.03
Nunavut - - - - 0.54 0.57 0.58 0.65
Canada - - 0.96 0.96 0.96 0.97 0.97 0.98
Ontario 0.73 0.72 0.63 0.61 0.60 0.60 0.57 0.55
Nova Scotia 0.69 0.69 0.59 0.57 0.56 0.53 0.51 0.46
Prince Edward Island 0.60 0.64 0.53 0.53 0.48 0.49 0.47 0.45
Manitoba 0.65 0.60 0.49 0.47 0.46 0.45 0.42 0.40
Yukon 0.30 0.45 0.43 0.46 0.46 0.49 0.57 0.58
Northwest Territories 0.50 0.51 0.47 0.43 0.39 0.46 0.51 0.54
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.63 0.72 0.47 0.42 0.42 0.36 0.46 0.39
Alberta 0.49 0.49 0.36 0.32 0.33 0.33 0.36 0.35
Saskatchewan 0.50 0.41 0.33 0.29 0.26 0.26 0.26 0.25
British Columbia 0.30 0.35 0.28 0.29 0.29 0.30 0.29 0.30

Non-official languages spoken in Canada

Indigenous languages

Main articles: Indigenous languages of the Americas and List of endangered languages in Canada

See also: Canadian Aboriginal syllabics

Indigenous language speakers in Canada-3

Canada is home to a rich variety of Indigenous languages, most of which are spoken nowhere else. There are 14 Indigenous language groups in Canada with about 100 distinct languages and dialects, including many sign languages.[63] Almost all Indigenous languages in Canada are considered endangered, with the exception of Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, and the Cree varieties Naskapi, Atikamekw, East Cree, and Plains Cree.[64] Prior to colonization, multilingualism was common across Indigenous nations, many of whom often seasonally migrated. However, the reserve system created more permanent stationary bands, which have generally selected only one of their various ancestral languages to try to preserve in the face of increasing Anglicization, Francization,[65] or Amslanization (the process by which American Sign Language replaces local sign languages).[66] In addition, the residential school system attempted to institutionally exterminate languages and cultures from coast to coast to coast. The cruel methods (such as physical and sexual abuse, as well as death rates as high as one in twenty children[67]) resulted in a sharp declines in language use across all nations,[68] including amongst deaf and signing communities.[69]

Robert Falcon Ouellette, A Cree Member of Parliament, played a pivotal role in promoting Indigenous languages within the Canadian Parliament and Canadian House of Commons. He was instrumental in obtaining unanimous consent from all political parties to change the standing orders to allow Indigenous languages to be spoken in the House of Commons, with full translation services provided. This historic change enabled Ouellette to deliver a speech in Cree, marking the first use of an Indigenous language in the House on Jan 28, 2019.[70] [71] [72]

Furthermore, Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act passed in 2019, was enacted to support and revitalize Indigenous languages across Canada. This legislation, aims to reclaim, revitalize, and maintain Indigenous languages through sustainable funding and the establishment of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. Ouellette was the chair of the Indigenous caucus in the House of Commons and helped ensure it passage before the election of 2019. [73] [74] [75] [76]

Two of Canada's territories give official status to native languages. In Nunavut, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, known collectively as Inuktut, are official languages alongside the national languages of English and French, and Inuktitut is a common vehicular language in territorial government.[77][78] In the Northwest Territories, the Official Languages Act declares that there are eleven different languages: Cree, Dënësųłıné, Dene Yatıé / Dene Zhatıé,[nb 1] English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́ / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́,[nb 1] and Tłįchǫ.[9] Besides English and French, these languages are not vehicular in government; official status entitles citizens to receive services in them on request and to deal with the government in them.[79]

Awaiting royal assent in October 2022 on Treaty Day, Nova Scotia has affirmed Mi'kmawi'simk as the "First Language" of the province through a bill titled the "Mi'kmaw Language Act" (No. 148). The Act establishes a language committee co-developed and co-run by Miꞌkmaw Kinaꞌmatnewey as well as ensuring "government support for the preservation, revitalization, promotion and protection of the Mi’kmaw language for generations to come," collaboratively developing strategy between the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia and the Government of Nova Scotia.[2]

According to the 2016 census, less than one per cent of Canadians (213,225) reported an Indigenous language as their mother tongue, and less than one per cent of Canadians (137,515) reported an Indigenous language as the language spoken most often at home.[80] Whilst most Canadian Indigenous languages are endangered and their current speaker numbers are frequently low, the number of speakers has grown and even outpaced the number with an indigenous mother tongue, indicating that many people continue to learn the languages even if not initially raised with them.[81]

Given the destruction of Indigenous state structures, academics usually classify Indigenous peoples of Canada by region into "culture areas", or by their language family.[82]

Indigenous languages No. of speakers Mother tongue Home language
Cree (n.o.s.)[nb 7][a] 99,950 78,855 47,190
Inuktitut 35,690 32,010 25,290
Ojibwemowin 32,460 11,115 11,115
InnuNaskapi 11,815 10,970 9,720
Denesuline 11,130 9,750 7,490
Oji-Cree (Anishininimowin) 12,605 8,480 8,480
Mi'kmawi'simk 8,750 7,365 3,985
Siouan languages (Dakota/Nakota) 6,495 5,585 3,780
Atikamekw 5,645 5,245 4,745
Blackfoot 4,915 3,085 3,085
Tłįchǫ 2,645 2,015 1,110
Algonquin (Omàmìwininìmowin) 2,685 1,920 385
Dakelh 2,495 1,560 605
Gitxsanimaax 1,575 1,175 320
Tsilhqot'in 1,400 1,070 435
Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́ /
Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́
[nb 1]
1,235 650 650
Dené Dháh / Dene Yatıé / Dene Zhatıé[nb 1] 2,315 600 600
Wəlastəkey latowewakən 790 535 140
Inuinnaqtun 580 370 70
Gwich’in 570 355 25
Kanienʼkéha 615 290 20
Secwepemctsín 1,650 250 250
Nisg̱a'a 1,090 250 250
Tlingit 175 0 0
Atgangmuurngniq 47[84] Unknown Unknown
Onʌyota'a:ká Sign Language[b] Unknown Unknown Unknown
Plains Sign Talk[b] Unknown Unknown Unknown
Secwepemcékst[b] Unknown Unknown Unknown
Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census Profile of Federal Electoral Districts (2003 Representation Order): Language, Mobility and Migration and Immigration and Citizenship Ottawa, 2007, pp. 2, 6, 10.[63]
a There exist numerous Cree languages, such as Plains Cree (nêhiyawêwin ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ), Woods Cree (nīhithawīwin ᓃᐦᐃᖬᐑᐏᐣ), Swampy Cree (E: nêhinawêwin ᓀᐦᐃᓇᐌᐎᐣ, W: ininîmowin ᐃᓂᓃᒧᐎᓐ), Moose Cree (ililîmowin ᐃᓕᓖᒧᐎᓐ), and East Cree (N: Iyiniu-Ayamiwin ᐄᓅ ᐊᔨᒨᓐ S: Iyiyiu-Ayamiwin ᐄᔨᔫ ᐊᔨᒨᓐ).
b Although small in number,[83] these languages have been included without data to show the disparity in information between oral and sign languages. The Canadian Association of the Deaf state that, in their opinion, "no fully credible census of Deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people has ever been conducted in Canada." By extension, there exists no credible data on sign languages, especially of Indigenous sign languages.[85]

Glottolog 4.3 (2020) counted 13 independent Indigenous language families and/or isolates in Canada.[86] A potential fourteenth family, that of the sign languages of the Plateau, possibly hosting languages like Secwepemcékst and Ktunaxa Sign Language, remains unlisted by Glottolog. It remains unknown to academia the extent which sign languages are spoken and how they relate to and across linguistic families.[85]

  1. Algonquian[lan 1]
  2. Haida
  3. Inuit[lan 2]
  4. Inuit Sign
  5. Iroquoian[lan 3]
  6. Ktunaxa
  7. Na-Dene[lan 4]
  8. Plains Sign[lan 5]
  9. Salishan[lan 7]
  10. Siouan[lan 8]
  11. Tsimshian[lan 9]
  12. Wakashan[lan 10]
  13. Beothuk
  14. ?Plateau Sign[lan 6]

Pidgins, mixed languages, & trade languages

In Canada, as elsewhere in the world of European colonization, the frontier of European exploration and settlement tended to be a linguistically diverse and fluid place, as cultures using different languages met and interacted. The need for a common means of communication between the indigenous inhabitants and new arrivals for the purposes of trade and (in some cases) intermarriage led to the development of hybrid languages. These languages tended to be highly localized, were often spoken by only a small number of individuals who were frequently capable of speaking another language, and often persisted only briefly, before being wiped out by the arrival of a large population of permanent settlers, speaking either English or French.

Belle Isle Pidgin

Further information: Labrador Inuit Pidgin French

Spoken until about 1760, this pidgin was spoken between Breton and Basque fishermen and NunatuKavummiut of NunatuKavut (Labrador).


Further information: Bungi Creole

Named from the Ojibwe word bangii meaning "a little bit,"[87][88] the meagrely documented Bungi Creole (also known as Bungee, Bungy, Bungie, Bungay, and as the Red River Dialect) is a mixed language predominantly anchored in English that evolved within the Prairie Métis community, specifically the Countryborn or Anglo-Métis. Due to the multicultural nature of the Red River Settlement, Bungi was influenced by Scottish English, Nehiyawewin, Nakawemowin, the Orcadian dialect of Scots, Norn, Scottish Gaelic, and Canadian French.[89][90][91] The vocabulary and word order were primarily English, but the speech was lilting like that of Gaelic speakers, with pronunciation and structural shifts coming from the Cree languages, such as: shawl becoming sawl, she becoming see, and the popular greeting I’m well, you but?.[92] Bungi reached its peak in the nineteenth century, with about 5,000 Countryborn native speakers of the dialect in 1870. However, over the next century, standard Canadian English gradually replaced it; and by the late 1980s, only a handful of elderly speakers remained. It is generally considered to be asleep today.[92]


Further information: Chiac

Spoken in the Maritime provinces (mostly in New Brunswick), Chiac is a creole language with a linguistic base in Acadian French and Maritime English with significant contributions from Mi'kmawi'simk and the Maliseet language.[93] Notable for its code-switching between English and French, it is often popularly considered a variant of Franglais, with examples such as: Espère-moi su'l'corner, j'traverse le ch'min pi j'viens right back (Wait for me at the corner, I'm crossing the road and I'll be right back) and On va amarrer ça d'même pour faire sûr que ça tchenne[94] (We will tie it like this to make sure it stays).[94] However, Chiac is not simply a Franglais/Frenglish mix of French and English, as it differs distinctly from other French-English mixed-use cases such as those found amongst Fransaskois or Ontarois.[95][96]

Chinook Jargon

Further information: Chinook Wawa

In British Columbia, Yukon and throughout the Pacific Northwest, a pidgin language known as the Chinook Jargon (also rendered "Chinook Wawa") emerged in the early 19th century that was a combination of Chinookan, Nootka, Chehalis, French and English, with a smattering of words from other languages including Hawaiian and Spanish.[97] Later in that century, it had creolized in the Pacific Northwest. Certain words and expressions remain current in local use, such as skookum, tyee, and saltchuck, while a few have become part of worldwide English ("high mucketymuck" or "high muckamuck" for a high-ranking and perhaps self-important official).


A portmanteau language which is said to combine English and French syntax, grammar and lexicons to form a unique interlanguage, is sometimes ascribed to mandatory basic French education in the Canadian anglophone school systems. Many unilingual anglophone Canadians, for instance, will borrow French words into their sentences. Simple words and phrases like "C'est quoi ça?" (what is that?) or words like "arrête" (stop) can alternate with their English counterparts. This phenomenon is more common in the eastern half of the country where there is a greater density of Francophone populations. Franglais can also refer to the supposed degradation of the French language thanks to the overwhelming impact Canadian English has on the country's Francophone inhabitants, though many linguists would argue that while English vocabulary can be freely borrowed as a stylistic device, the grammar of French has been resistant to influences from English[98] and the same conservatism holds true in Canadian English grammar,[99] even in Quebec City.

Haida Jargon

Further information: Haida Jargon

A pidgin trade language based on Haida, known as Haida Jargon, was used in the 1830s in and around Haida Gwaii. It was used by speakers of English, Haida, Coast Tsimshian, Heiltsuk, and other languages.

Loucheux Jargon

As a result of cultural contact between the Gwich'in (formerly called "Loucheaux") and Europeans (predominately French coureurs des bois and voyageurs), a pidgin language was historically used across Gwich'in Nành, Denendeh.[100] The language is often called in English "Jargon Loucheux" using the traditional French syntax.[101]


Further information: Michif

Michif (also known as Mitchif, Mechif, Michif-Cree, Métif, Métchif, and French Cree) is a mixed language which evolved within the Prairie Métis community that was oriented towards Cree and Franco-Catholic culture. It is based on elements of Cree and French along with elements of Ojibwa and Assiniboine. Michif is today spoken by fewer than 1,000 individuals in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota. At its peak, around 1900, Michif was understood by perhaps three times this number.

Nootka Jargon

Further information: Nootka Jargon

Based in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and likely one precursor to Chinook Wawa, Nootka Jargon was a trade language derived from Nuučaan̓uł, English, Spanish, and Russian, as well as other local languages.

Slavey Jargon

Further information: Slavey Jargon

Also known as "Broken Slavey," this language was spoken until the mid-1900s, abruptly diminishing due to the influx of English into Denendeh and Inuit Nunangat.[102] Documentation has also shown that the language was spoken by a range of fur traders, postmasters, and their wives, sisters, and daughters, who were often of Métis descent.[102] The native languages of speakers who used Slavey Jargon were Denesuline, French, Gwich'in, Inuktitut, and the languages collectively known as "Slavey" (North: Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́, K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́, and Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́; South: Dene Yatıé or Dene Zhatıé and Dené Dháh). The Dene, Inuit, French, British, and Métis who spoke the language did so predominately for preaching the gospel, teasing and harassing clergymen, and for interpersonal relationships.[102] The use of Slavey Jargon can be characterized as an innovation employed by speakers in order to meet several linguistic goals, such as introductions, advice, and disputes.[102] Mishler specified, "For all these reasons, Slavey Jargon seems inaccurate to characterize it strictly as a trade jargon" (p. 277).[102]

Spoken predominately in the Liard and Dehcho Countries of Denendeh, the nouns of the language generally consisted of English, Dënësųłınë́ Yatıé, Sahtúgot’įné / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́, and Dene Yatıé/Zhatıé, whereas the verbs and pronouns are derived from French. Adverbs are typically pulled from Dënësųłınë́ and Gwich’in. There is, however, a lot of variation in Slavey Jargon. Gwich’in verbs can be mixed with French nouns or phonemically modified French sentences exist.[102]


Further information: Algonquian–Basque pidgin

Spoken alongside the Basque/Breton–Inuit Belle Isle pidgin was another pidgin language that developed in the 16th century amongst the Basque in coastal areas along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Strait of Belle Isle as the result of contact between Basque whalers and local Algonquian peoples, notably the Mi'kmaq.[103] The name "Souriquois" has an obscure history and most likely refers to region around Souris and the Basque suffix koa, perhaps from zurikoa “that of the whites."[104]

Sign languages

See also: Deaf life for Indigenous peoples in Canada

Attested historical ranges of sign languages of the US and Canada excluding ASL and LSQ.

Alongside the numerous and varied oral languages, Canada also boasts several sign languages. Currently, Canada is home to some five or more sign languages (that number rising with the probability that Plains Sign Talk is actually a language family with several languages under its umbrella), belonging to four to six distinct language families, those being: French Sign Language family, BANZSL family, the Plains Sign family, the Inuit Sign isolate, perhaps the Coast Salish Sign isolate, and perhaps a Plateau Sign family composed of Secwepemcékst and Ktunaxa Sign Language.

As with all sign languages around the world that developed naturally, these are natural, human languages distinct from any oral language. As such, American Sign Language (unlike Signed English) is no more a derivation of English than Russian is,[105] all being distinct languages from one another. Some languages present here were trade pidgins which were used first as a system of communication across national and linguistic boundaries of First Nations, however, they have since developed into mature languages as children learned them as a first language.

The sign languages of Canada share extremely limited rights within the country in large due to the general population's misinformation on the subject. Ontario is the only province or territory to formally make legal any sign language, enabling the use of American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) and "First Nation Sign Language" (which could refer to Plains Sign Talk, Oneida Sign Language, or any other language) in only the domains of education, legislation and judiciary proceedings.[106] The only other language afforded any other rights is Inuiuuk, which sees interpretation in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.[107] There have been efforts to make LSQ an official language of Quebec, but all efforts have failed.[108]

American Sign Language

The most spoken sign language in Canada, American Sign Language or ASL, can be found across the country in mostly anglophone regions. The ties with anglophone Canada are not due to ASL and English's similarity, but to cultural similarities and linguistic history (as several ASL words are borrowed from English). As such, ASL can be found in areas where English is not the primary language, such as Montreal or Nunavut. ASL is part of the French Sign Language (Francosign) family, originating on the East Coast of the United States from a mix of Langue des signes françaises (LSF) and other local languages.

Coast Salish Sign Language

There is evidence that Coast Salish citizens speak a distinct sign language.[83]

Hand Talk

Originally a trade pidgin, Plains Sign Talk, also known as Plains Standard or Prairie Sign Language, became a full language after children began to learn the language as a first language across many Nations.[citation needed] From "HANDS" and "TO TALK TO," Hand Talk was used as a lingua franca across linguistic and national boundaries[109] across the continent and the language stretched across the provinces down through Mexico.[110] As Plains Sign Talk was so widespread and was a spectrum of dialects and accents, it probably hosted several languages under its umbrella. One is potentially Navajo Sign Language which is in use by a sole Navajo clan.[111]

Oneida Sign Language

Born out of the Oneida Nation, OSL is a mixed language, descended primarily from both Prairie Sign Language (or Hand Talk) and the oral Oneida language, with some additions from ASL.[112] Onʌyota'a:ká (or Oneida) Sign Language is a young and growing language, spreading especially amongst deaf Oneida citizens.[113][83]

Inuit Sign Language

Inuit Sign Language, also known as Atgangmuurngniq or Uukturausingit, is a critically endangered language with some 50 speakers remaining. It is a language isolate and has only be found by researchers in Nunavut; however, there are theories it extends across the Arctic Circle.[84] Little is known about its history, but efforts are being made to document and revitalize the language.[114]

Maritime Sign Language

Maritime Sign Language is a BANZSL language. It was used as the language of education for Deaf populations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island before ASL became available in the mid-20th century. It is still remembered by some elderly people but is moribund. The language, living alongside ASL, has produced a unique dialect of ASL in The Maritimes due to mixing of the languages. The exact number of speakers is unknown.

Plateau Sign Language

Another trade pidgin that may have become a separate language, Plateau Sign Language replaced Plains Sign Talk in the Columbia Plateau and surrounding regions of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It is now extinct.

Ktunaxa Sign Language

Called ʾa·qanⱡiⱡⱡitnam in the Ktunaxa language,[115] Ktunaxa Sign Language has historically been spoken in Ktunaxa ɁamakaɁis (Ktunaxa Country).[116]

Secwépemc Sign Language

Perhaps related to or descended from the old Plateau Sign Language, Secwepemcékst or Secwépemc Sign Language is spoken by a small number of Secwépemc citizens.[83]

Quebec Sign Language

Alongside ASL, Quebec Sign Language or LSQ (Langue des signes québécoise) is the second most spoken sign language in the country. Centred mainly around and within Quebec, LSQ can also be found in Ontario, New Brunswick and various other parts of the country, generally around francophone communities due to historical ties to the French language. Although approximately 10% of the population of Quebec is deaf or hard-of-hearing, it is estimated that only 50,000 to 60,000 children use LSQ as their native language. LSQ is part of the Francosign family with ASL. As such, both languages are mutually intelligible.

Canadian dialects of European languages

Acadian French

Further information: Acadian French

Acadian French is a unique form of Canadian French which incorporates not only distinctly Canadian phrases but also nautical terms, English loanwords, linguistic features found only in older forms of French as well as ones found in the Maritimer English dialect.

Brayon French

Further information: Brayon

A sub-dialect of Acadian French, Brayon French is spoken by those in Madawaska County of New Brunswick. The language is a mix of Acadian and Quebec French with influence from the local Mi'kmaw and Maliseet languages, with only slight differentiation from the more standard Acadian French.[117][118][119]

Québec French

Further information: Québec French

As the most spoken variety of French in Canada, Québec French contains a significant number of dialects, generally grouped in two: the "old" dialects of the territories at the time of the British conquest and the "new" dialects that arose post-conquest.

Chaouin French

Further information: Chaouin

Around 1615 as the coureurs des bois moved past the city of Quebec, those who settled in Ndakinna (Abenaki land) developed unique features still found today, especially in the Bois-Francs region South of the St. Lawrence.

Joual French

Further information: Joual

Originally the dialect of the French-speaking working class in Montréal, the cultural renaissance connected to the Quiet Revolution have resulted in Joual being spoken by people across the educational and economic spectrum.

Màgoua French

Further information: Magoua dialect

Possibly deriving from the Atikamekw word for "loon" (makwa; standard French: huard), the French spoken by the Magoua community is one of the most conservative French dialects in North America. This basilectal dialect is found in Nitaskinan as the Trois-Rivières region became the first stronghold of the coureurs des bois outside the city of Quebec in 1615. Magoua French preserves the sontaient ("étaient") characteristic of Métis French and Cajun French, has a creole-like past tense particle tà, and has old present-tense contraction of a former verb "to be" that behave in the same manner as subject clitics.

Métis French

Further information: Métis French

Alongside Michif and Bungi, the Métis dialect of French is one of the traditional languages of the Métis people, and the French-dialect source of the Michif language.[120] Métis French is a variety of Canadian French with some added characters Ññ, Áá, Óó, and Ææ (from older French spellings), such as: il ñá ócun nævus sur ce garçon English: "there is no birthmark on this boy."[56] There are also significant amounts of words loaned from Indigenous languages such as Ojibwemowin, Dane-zaa Ẕáágéʔ (Beaver), and several Cree languages.[57] Like Michif, Métis French is spoken predominantly in Manitoba as well as adjacent provinces and US states.[121] As a general rule, Métis individuals tend to speak one or the other, rarely both.[55]

Newfoundland French

Further information: Newfoundland French

Tracing their origins to Continental French fishermen who settled in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rather than the Québécois, Newfoundland French (or français terre-neuvien) refers to the French spoken on the Port au Port Peninsula (part of the so-called “French Shore”) of Newfoundland. Some Acadians of the Maritimes also settled in the area. For this reason, Newfoundland French is most closely related to the Breton and Norman French of nearby St-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Today, heavy contact with Acadian French—and especially widespread bilingualism with Newfoundland English—have taken their toll, and the community is in decline. The degree to which lexical features of Newfoundland French constitute a distinct dialect is not presently known. It is uncertain how many speakers survive; the dialect could be moribund. There is a provincial advocacy organisation Fédération des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, representing both the Peninsular French and Acadian French communities.

Ontarois French

Further information: Franco-Ontarian § Franco-Ontarian French

Although quite similar to Quebec French, the dialect of the Ontarois or Franco-Ontarians maintains distinctive features. These include the progressive disappearance of the subjunctive, the use of the possessive á, the transfer of rules from English to French, e.g., "J’ai vu un film sur/à la télévision" which comes from "I saw a film on television", or "Je vais à la maison/chez moi" coming from "I'm going home," and the loaning of English conjunctions such as "so" for ça fait que or alors.

Black English

In what is also called Black Canadian, Afro-Canadian, or African Canadian English, there exist several varieties of English spoken by Black Canadians. The most well-established is the dialect spoken by Afro-Nova Scotians.[122] In places like Toronto where there is a large population of Afro-Caribbean descendants and newcomers, localized varieties of Black English take on elements of Caribbean English, as well as mixing with African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). Although AAVE is not nearly as widespread in Canada as it is across the United States, Black Canadians have various lines of connection to the dialect. Sometimes that connection is historical, such as with Black Nova Scotians; sometimes it is hegemonic, where Afro-Canadians adopt speech mannerisms from the larger United States; sometimes it is diasporic, where communities of African-American newcomers or African-American descendants coalesce, especially in larger cities.

Afro-Nova Scotian English

Further information: African-American English § African Nova Scotian English

African Nova Scotian English is spoken by descendants of Black Nova Scotians, black immigrants from the United States. Though most African American freedom seekers in Canada ended up in Ontario through the Underground Railroad, only the dialect of African Nova Scotians retains the influence of West African pidgin.[123] In the 19th century, African Nova Scotian English would have been indistinguishable from English spoken in Jamaica or Suriname.[124] However, it has been increasingly de-creolized since this time, due to interaction and influence from the white Nova Scotian population. Desegregation of the province's school boards in 1964 further accelerated the process of de-creolization. The language is a relative of the African-American Vernacular English, with significant variations unique to the group's history in the area.[125][126] There are noted differences in the dialects of those from Guysborough County (Black Loyalists), and those from North Preston (Black Refugees), the Guysborough group having been in the province three generations earlier.[126]

Howe and Walker use data from early recordings of African Nova Scotian English, Samaná English, and the recordings of former slaves to demonstrate that speech patterns were inherited from nonstandard colonial English.[127] The dialect was extensively studied in 1992 by Shana Poplack and Sali Tagliamonte from the University of Ottawa.[126]

A commonality between African Nova Scotian English and African-American Vernacular English is (r)-deletion. This rate of deletion is 57% among Black Nova Scotians, and 60% among African Americans in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in the surrounding mostly white communities of Nova Scotia, (r)-deletion does not occur.[128]

Cascadian English

Further information: Pacific Northwest English

The English language in British Columbia shares numerous features with the neighbouring states of Washington and Oregon, such as the /æɡ/ raising (found words such as bag, vague and bagel). Boreal Cascadian English speakers exhibit more vowel retraction of /æ/ before nasals than people from Toronto, and younger speakers in the Greater Vancouver area do not raise /aʊ/ as much, but keep the drop in intonation, causing "about" to sound slightly like "a baht." The "o" in such words as holy, goal, load, know, etc. is pronounced as a close-mid back rounded vowel, [o], but not as rounded as in the Prairies where there are strong Scandinavian, Slavic and German influences, which can lend to a more stereotypical "Canadian" accent.

Indigenous English

Further information: Aboriginal English in Canada

The varieties of English spoken by Indigenous people are phonologically influenced by their first or traditional languages. This has resulted in an identifiable dialect spectrum distinct from other Canadian English dialects. Due to the ongoing stigmatization of Indigenous cultures, Indigenous children could be wrongly diagnosed as having a speech impairment or a learning disability, when what is identified by medical professionals are simply the dialectal features.[129]

Some written works use Indigenous English dialects. For example, Maria Campbell's book Stories of the Road Allowance People is a collection of Métis folktales. An excerpt from that work illustrates the type of speech used by Elders in rural Métis communities during her research, but some stories were collected in Cree or other languages and translated into dialectical English by Campbell:

Dere wasen very much he can steal from dah table anyways
'cept da knives and forks.
An Margareet he knowed he wouldn dare take dem
cause dat woman you know
hees gots a hell of a repetation for being a hardheaded woman
when he gets mad.
Dat man he have to be a damn fool to steal from hees table.

— Dah Teef[130]

Lunenburg English

Further information: Lunenburg English

Spoken in Lunenburg and Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, this moribund dialect is sometimes called "Lunenburg Dutch" due to its rooting in the large Kurpfalzisch and Württembergisch population who settled the town. Although the German language subsided significantly, the English of the town and county continue to be marked by its influence. Indeed, the pronunciation in Lunenburg county is the only Canadian community to be non-rhotic. The accent features Canadian raising and so flight [ˈflʌɪt] has a different vowel from fly [ˈflɑɪ], and the noun house [ˈhoʊs] has a different vowel from the verb house [ˈhɑʊz]. In Lunenburg, the phrase about a boat contains two identical stressed and two identical unstressed vowels: /əˌboʊt ə ˈboʊt/, rather than the Standard Canadian English /əˌbaʊt ə ˈboʊt/, with distinct stressed vowels. Due to German influence, there is the tendency to pronounce /w/ in witch the same as /v/ as in van. Another example is the lack of the dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/, which are replaced by the alveolar stops /t/ and /d/ (rendering "thank" and "tank" homophonous as /ˈtæŋk/), and the "t" at the end of words is usually silent: "get" becomes "ge."

For example, here is a sample of a conversation between two people:

"De kids vere over der in da woods, gettin inda dis an dat."
"Dey never did?"
"Yeah, an now dey gone da get some of dem der apples you see."
"You don't say?"
"No foolin, dey over der now."
"Dey brung some of dem apples over heera da day before."
"Oh, dey vere some good eatin I bet."
"Now look, you make no nevermind, dose vere da best apples I ever did have, dey vas some good."
"Oh, here dey come now, dey bedda know da wash der feet off."

Maritime English

Further information: Atlantic Canadian English

Spoken across the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, this English dialect has been influenced by British and Irish English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and some Acadian French, as well as by Mi'kmawi'simk.

Newfoundland English

Further information: Newfoundland English

The initial European settlers to Newfoundland were fishermen from the various coastal villages of the English West Country of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, and Wiltshire beginning in the 1500s (previously they visited in summer and returned). This set the basic speech patterns for those settlers who fanned out into isolated coves and bays along the island's 9,700 km (6,000 mi) of coastline to take advantage of the scattered off-shore fishing areas. Labrador, today the greater part of "Newfoundland", was then sparsely settled. The West Country dialects continued to be spoken in isolated coves and fjords of the island thus preserving varied dialects of what is today referred to as Newfoundland English.

It was not until the 1700s that social disruptions in Ireland sent thousands of Irish from the southeastern counties of Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, and Cork and to the Avalon peninsula in the eastern part of Newfoundland where significant Irish influence on the Newfoundland dialects may still be heard.

Some of the Irish immigrants to Newfoundland were native speakers of Irish making Newfoundland the only place outside Europe to have its own Irish dialect. Newfoundland was also the only place outside Europe to have its own distinct name in Irish: Talamh an Éisc, which means 'land of the fish'. The Irish language is now extinct in Newfoundland.

After 400 years, much of the dialectal differences between the isolated settlements has levelled out beginning in the 20th century when faster boats (using gas engines instead of oars or sails), and improved road connections provided easier social contact. As well, influences from mainland North America began to affect the local dialects beginning during WWII when US and Canadian servicemen were stationed in Newfoundland and accelerating after Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949. Lack of an official orthography, publications in dialect, speaker attrition and official disinterest in promoting the language has been contributing factors towards a decline of speakers of the older, traditional Newfoundland English in the original settlements.

Ottawa Valley Twang

Ottawa Valley Twang is the accent, sometimes referred to as a dialect of English, that is spoken in the Ottawa Valley, in Ontario.[131] The Ottawa Valley is considered to be a linguistic enclave within Ontario.[132]

Quebec English

Further information: Quebec English

The language of English-speaking Quebecers generally aligns to Standard Canadian English, however established ethnic groups retain certain, distinctive lexical features, such as the dialects spoken by Mohawk, Cree, Inuit, Irish, Jewish, Italian, and Greek communities. Isolated fishing villages on the Basse-Côte-Nord speak Newfoundland English, and many Gaspesian English-speakers use Maritime English.

Toronto slang

Further information: Toronto slang

Spoken within the Greater Toronto Area, Toronto slang is the nuanced, multicultural English spoken in the city. This dialect is heavily influenced by the different communities present, most notably the Jamaican, Trinidadian, Guyanese, and other Caribbean communities and their ways of speaking. There is also influence from West African, East African, and South Asian communities.

Canadian Gaelic

Further information: Canadian Gaelic

Canadian Gaelic was spoken by many immigrants who settled in Glengarry County (Ontario) and the Maritimes—predominantly in New Brunswick's Restigouche River valley, central and southeastern Prince Edward Island, and across the whole of northern Nova Scotia—particularly Cape Breton. While the Canadian Gaelic dialect has mostly disappeared, regional pockets persist. These are mostly centred on families deeply committed to their Celtic traditions. Nova Scotia currently has 500–1,000 fluent speakers, mostly in northwestern Cape Breton. There have been attempts in Nova Scotia to institute Gaelic immersion on the model of French immersion. As well, formal post-secondary studies in Gaelic language and culture are available through St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary's University, and Cape Breton University

In 1890, a private member's bill was tabled in the Canadian Senate, calling for Gaelic to be made Canada's third official language. However, the bill was defeated 42–7.

Newfoundland Irish

Further information: Irish language in Newfoundland

Newfoundland is home to the largest population of Irish-descendants in Canada and once hosted a thriving Irish Gaelic linguistic community. Although steep declines around the 20th century meant that the Irish language on the Island hardly remains, there exists today strong interest with consistent efforts to revive the language.

Newfoundland Irish has left an impact on the English spoken on the Island, including terms like scrob "scratch" (Irish scríob), sleveen "rascal" (Irish slíbhín) and streel "slovenly person" (Irish sraoill), along with grammatical features like the "after" perfect as in "she's already after leavin'" (Irish tá sí tar éis imeacht).[133] As well, both Newfoundland (Talamh an Éisc, Land of the Fish)[134] and St. John's (Baile Sheáin)[135] have distinct names in the Irish-language. The dialect of Irish spoken in Newfoundland is said to resemble the Munster Irish of the 18th century.

Events and institutions are increasingly supporting the language with ever larger Céilithe móra, students participating in Conradh na Gaeilge events, people playing Gaelic sports, and Irish film festivals attracting English- and Irish-speakers alike. There is also an Irish language instructor, appointed every year by the Ireland Canada University Foundation, who works at Memorial University in St. John's,[136] where the university's Digital Learning Centre provides resources for learning the Irish language.[137]

Newfoundland Welsh

Further information: Welsh language § Canada

Some Welsh is found in Newfoundland. In part, this is as a result of Welsh settlement since the 17th century. Also, there was an influx of about 1,000 Patagonian Welsh, who migrated to Canada from Argentina after the 1982 Falklands War. Welsh-Argentines are fluent in Spanish as well as English and Welsh.

Canadian Ukrainian

Further information: Canadian Ukrainian

Canada is also home to Canadian Ukrainian, a distinct dialect of the Ukrainian language, spoken mostly in Western Canada by the descendants of first two waves of Ukrainian settlement in Canada who developed in a degree of isolation from their cousins in what was then Austria-Hungary, the Russian Empire, Poland, and the Soviet Union.

Doukhobor Russian

Further information: Doukhobor Russian

Canada's Doukhobor community, especially in Grand Forks and Castlegar, British Columbia, has kept its distinct dialect of Russian. It has a lot in common with South Russian dialects, showing some common features with Ukrainian. This dialect's versions are becoming extinct in their home regions of Georgia and Russia where the Doukhobors have split into smaller groups.


Further information: Pennsylvania Dutch language

A variety of West Central German spoken by the Old Order Amish, Old Order Mennonites and other descendants of German immigrants in Canada, Pennsylvania Dutch or Deitsch is closely related to the Palatine dialects of the Upper Rhine Valley.[138] Of the estimated 300,000 speakers, most are found across several US states, whilst there is a sizable community within Ontario.[139]


Further information: Hutterite German

Centred in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Hutterite communities maintain a distinct form of the German language descended from Bavarian dialects spoken in Tyrol (by founder Jacob Hutter). The language shifted in the mid-18th century toward a more Carinthian linguistic base upon the deportation of Landler from Austria to Transylvania. There is only about a 50% intelligibility between Pennsylvania Dutch speakers and Hutterisch.[140] Its speaker base belongs to the Schmiedleit, Lehrerleit, and Dariusleit groups with a few speakers among the older generations of Prairieleit (the descendants of those Hutterites who chose not to settle in colonies). Hutterite children who grow up in the colonies first learn and speak Hutterisch before learning English. Of the estimated 34,000 speakers in the world (as of 2003), 85% of them live in 370 communities in Canada.[141] Canadian adults are generally literate in Early New High German (also called "Biblical German", the predecessor to Standard German used by Martin Luther) that they employ as the written form for Scriptures, however Hutterisch is, for the most part, an unwritten language.[142]


Further information: Plautdietsch language

Plautdietsch is predominantly found in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario where Mennonite communities settled. The Mennonites, or Russian Mennonites as they are sometimes called, descend from Low country Anabaptists who fled from what is today the Netherlands and Belgium in the 16th century to escape persecution and resettled in the Vistula delta.[143] Their language is a fusion of Dutch, West Frisian and Dutch Low Saxon dialects which over time mixed with the East Low German dialects of Werdersch, Nehrungisch and Weichselisch.[144]

Official multilingualism

Main articles: Official bilingualism in Canada and Official bilingualism in the public service of Canada

Language policy of the federal government

A bilingual sign in Montreal

English and French have equal status in federal courts, the Parliament of Canada, as well as in all federal institutions.

The public has the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French. Immigrants who are applying for Canadian citizenship must normally be able to speak either English or French.

The principles of bilingualism in Canada are protected in sections 16 to 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 which establishes that:

Canada's Official Languages Act, first adopted in 1969 and updated in 1988, gives English and French equal status throughout federal institutions.

Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories

Main article: Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories

Officially bilingual or multilingual: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the three territories

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Canada's three territories have all given official status to more than one language. In the case of New Brunswick, this means perfect equality. In the other cases, the recognition sometimes amounts to a formal recognition of official languages, but limited services in official languages other than English.

The official languages are:

Officially French-only: Quebec

Until 1969, Quebec was the only officially bilingual province in Canada and most public institutions functioned in both languages. English was also used in the legislature, government commissions and courts. With the adoption of the Charter of the French Language (also known as "Bill 101") by Quebec's National Assembly in August 1977, however, French became Quebec's sole official language. However, the Charter of the French Language enumerates a defined set of language rights for the English language and for Aboriginal languages, and government services are available, to certain citizens and in certain regions, in English. As well, a series of court decisions have forced the Quebec government to increase its English-language services beyond those provided for under the original terms of the Charter of the French Language. Regional institutions in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec offer services in Inuktitut and Cree.

De facto English only, or limited French-language services: the other eight provinces

Most provinces have laws that make either English or both English and French the official language(s) of the legislature and the courts but may also have separate policies in regards to education and the bureaucracy.

For example, in Alberta, English and French are both official languages of debate in the Legislative Assembly, but laws may be drafted solely in English and there is no legal requirement that they be translated into French. French can be used in some lower courts and education is offered in both languages, but the bureaucracy functions almost solely in English. Therefore, although Alberta is not officially an English-only province, English has a higher de facto status than French. Ontario and Manitoba are similar but allow for more services in French at the local level.[citation needed]

Geographic distribution

The following table details the population of each province and territory, with summary national totals, by mother tongue as reported in the Canada 2016 Census.

Province/territory Total population English % French % Other languages % Official language(s)
Ontario 13,312,870 9,255,660 69.52% 568,345 4.27% 3,865,780 29.04% English (de facto)[146]
Quebec 8,066,555 718,985 8.91% 6,377,080 79.06% 1,173,345 14.54% French[6]
British Columbia 4,598,415 3,271,425 71.14% 71,705 1.56% 1,360,815 29.59% English (de facto)
Alberta 4,026,650 3,080,865 76.51% 86,705 2.15% 952,790 23.66% English
Manitoba 1,261,615 931,410 73.83% 46,055 3.65% 316,120 25.06% English
Saskatchewan 1,083,240 910,865 84.09% 17,735 1.64% 173,475 16.01% English
Nova Scotia 912,300 838,055 91.86% 33,345 3.66% 49,165 5.39% English (de facto)[a]
New Brunswick 736,280 481,690 65.42% 238,865 32.44% 25,165 3.42% English, French
Newfoundland and Labrador 515,680 501,350 97.22% 3,020 0.59% 13,035 2.53% English (de facto)
Prince Edward Island 141,020 128,975 91.46% 5,395 3.83% 7,670 5.44% English (de facto)
Northwest Territories 41,380 32,545 78.65% 1,365 3.30% 8,295 20.05% Cree, Dënësųłıné, Dene Yatıé / Zhatıé,[nb 1] English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́ / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́,[nb 1] Tłįchǫ[9]
Yukon 35,555 29,765 83.72% 1,815 5.10% 4,665 13.12% English, French
Nunavut 35,695 11,745 32.90% 640 1.79% 24,050 67.38% Inuit Language (Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun), English, French[145]
Canada 34,767,255 20,193,340 58.08% 7,452,075 21.43% 7,974,375 22.94% English, French
Source: Statistics Canada, Mother tongue by age (Total), 2016 counts for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census .[14]

Knowledge of languages

Top ten spoken languages in Canada
2021 census[b]
Language Percent

The question on knowledge of languages allows for multiple responses, and first appeared on the 1991 Canadian census.[e] The following figures are from the 1991 Canadian census, 2001 Canadian census, 2011 Canadian census, and the 2021 Canadian census.

Knowledge of Languages in Canada
Language 2021[148] 2011[149] 2001[147][150] 1991[151]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
English 31,628,570 87.06% 28,360,235[152] 85.63% 25,246,220[153] 85.18% 22,505,415 83.37%
French 10,563,235 29.08% 9,960,585[152] 30.07% 9,178,100[153] 30.97% 8,508,960 31.52%
Chinese[c] 1,528,860 4.21% 1,297,505 3.92% 1,028,445 3.47% 557,305 2.06%
Hindustani[d] 1,176,295 3.24% 576,165 1.74% 366,740 1.24% 163,930 0.61%
Spanish 1,171,450 3.22% 873,395 2.64% 610,580 2.06% 402,430 1.49%
Punjabi 942,170 2.59% 545,730 1.65% 338,720 1.14% 167,925 0.62%
Arabic 838,045 2.31% 470,965 1.42% 290,280 0.98% 164,380 0.61%
Tagalog 737,565 2.03% 491,075 1.48% 244,690 0.83% 136,975 0.51%
Italian 547,655 1.51% 595,600 1.8% 680,970 2.3% 701,910 2.6%
German 419,195 1.15% 525,480 1.59% 635,520 2.14% 684,955 2.54%
Portuguese 336,865 0.93% 266,950 0.81% 264,990 0.89% 254,465 0.94%
Persian[f] 330,725 0.91% 196,110 0.59% 111,700 0.38% 49,380 0.18%
Russian 309,235 0.85% 230,755 0.7% 157,455 0.53% 84,050 0.31%
Tamil 237,890 0.65% 179,465 0.54% 111,580 0.38% 37,330 0.14%
Vietnamese 232,800 0.64% 192,070 0.58% 165,645 0.56% 113,115 0.42%
Gujarati 209,410 0.58% 118,950 0.36% 80,835 0.27% 54,210 0.2%
Polish 204,460 0.56% 217,735 0.66% 249,695 0.84% 239,575 0.89%
Korean 203,885 0.56% 149,035 0.45% 91,610 0.31% 40,230 0.15%
Serbo-Croatian[g] 155,775 0.43% 154,700 0.47% 153,085 0.52% 100,541 0.37%
Greek 145,060 0.4% 150,620 0.45% 158,800 0.54% 161,320 0.6%
Haitian Creole 134,895 0.37% 128,555 0.39% 76,140 0.26% 49,970 0.19%
Ukrainian 131,655 0.36% 144,260 0.44% 200,520 0.68% 249,535 0.92%
Bengali 120,605 0.33% 69,490 0.21% 34,650 0.12% N/A <0.1%
Romanian 116,520 0.32% 97,180 0.29% 60,520 0.2% 30,520 0.11%
Dutch 107,985 0.3% 135,085 0.41% 157,875 0.53% 173,290 0.64%
Cree[h] 105,850 0.29% 96,690 0.29% 97,200 0.33% 93,825 0.35%
Japanese 98,070 0.27% 74,690 0.23% 65,030 0.22% 45,370 0.17%
Hebrew 83,205 0.23% 70,695 0.21% 63,675 0.21% 52,450 0.19%
Turkish 78,500 0.22% 44,080 0.13% 32,520 0.11% N/A <0.1%
Malayalam 77,910 0.21% 22,125 0.07% 9,185 0.03% N/A <0.1%
Hungarian 64,625 0.18% 73,695 0.22% 89,230 0.3% 97,410 0.36%
Ilocano 61,680 0.17% 21,880 0.07% N/A <0.03% N/A <0.1%
Somali 59,005 0.16% 37,115 0.11% N/A <0.03% N/A <0.1%
Swahili 57,295 0.16% 31,690 0.1% 25,300 0.09% N/A <0.1%
Telugu 54,685 0.15% 12,645 0.04% N/A <0.03% N/A <0.1%

Knowledge of official languages

Knowledge of Official Languages in Canada
Language 2021[154] 2016[155] 2011[152] 2006[156] 2001[147][153] 1996[157] 1991[158] 1981[159][160]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
English total 31,628,570 87.06% 29,973,590 86.21% 28,360,235 85.63% 26,578,795 85.08% 25,246,220 85.18% 23,975,565 84.04% 22,505,415 83.37% 19,804,855 82.23%
French total 10,563,235 29.08% 10,360,750 29.8% 9,960,585 30.07% 9,590,700 30.7% 9,178,100 30.97% 8,920,405 31.27% 8,508,960 31.52% 7,669,205 31.84%
English only 25,261,655 69.54% 23,757,525 68.33% 22,564,665 68.13% 21,129,945 67.64% 20,014,645 67.53% 19,134,245 67.07% 18,106,760 67.08% 16,122,895 66.95%
French only 4,087,895 11.25% 4,144,685 11.92% 4,165,015 12.58% 4,141,850 13.26% 3,946,525 13.32% 4,079,085 14.3% 4,110,305 15.23% 3,987,245 16.56%
English &
6,581,680 18.12% 6,216,065 17.88% 5,795,570 17.5% 5,448,850 17.44% 5,231,575 17.65% 4,841,320 16.97% 4,398,655 16.29% 3,681,960 15.29%
Neither English
nor French
689,725 1.9% 648,970 1.87% 595,920 1.8% 520,385 1.67% 446,285 1.51% 473,475 1.66% 378,320 1.4% 291,395 1.21%
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on

Speakers by mother tongue

Languages in Canada (Mother Tongue)
2016 Census
Language Percent
English and French
First language 2016 2011 2006 Notes
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Single language responses 33,947,610 97.64% 32,481,635 98.07% 30,848,270 98.74%
Official languages 26,627,545 76.59% 25,913,955 78.24% 24,700,425 79.06%
English 19,460,855 55.97% 18,858,980 56.94% 17,882,775 57.24%
French 7,166,700 20.61% 7,054,975 21.3% 6,817,650 21.82%
Non-official languages 7,321,070 21.06% 6,567,680 19.83% 6,147,840 19.68%
Combined Chinese Responses 1,227,680 3.53% n/a n/a n/a n/a Combined responses of Mandarin, Cantonese, Chinese n.o.s. and Min Nan
Mandarin (Standard Chinese) 592,035 1.7% 248,705 0.75% 170,950 0.55%
Cantonese 565,275 1.63% 372,460 1.12% 361,450 1.16%
Punjabi 501,680 1.44% 430,705 1.3% 367,505 1.18%
Spanish 458,850 1.32% 410,670 1.24% 345,345 1.11%
Tagalog (Filipino) 431,385 1.24% 327,445 0.99% 235,615 0.75%
Arabic 419,895 1.21% 327,870 0.99% 261,640 0.84%
German 384,040 1.1% 409,200 1.24% 450,570 1.44%
Italian 375,645 1.08% 407,485 1.23% 455,040 1.46%
Hindustani 321,465 0.92% 263,345 0.8% 224,045 0.72% Combined responses of Hindi and Urdu
Portuguese 221,535 0.64% 211,335 0.64% 219,275 0.7%
Persian (Farsi) 214,200 0.62% 170,045 0.51% 134,080 0.43%
Urdu 210,820 0.61% 172,800 0.52% 145,805 0.47%
Russian 188,255 0.54% 164,330 0.5% 133,580 0.43%
Polish 181,705 0.52% 191,645 0.58% 211,175 0.68%
Vietnamese 156,430 0.45% 144,880 0.44% 141,625 0.45%
Korean 153,425 0.44% 137,925 0.42% 125,570 0.4%
Tamil 140,720 0.4% 131,265 0.4% 115,880 0.37% Most of the Canadian Tamils live in Toronto.
Hindi 110,645 0.32% 90,545 0.27% 78,240 0.25%
Gujarati 108,775 0.31% 91,450 0.28% 81,465 0.26%
Greek 106,520 0.31% 108,925 0.33% 117,285 0.38%
Ukrainian 102,485 0.29% 111,540 0.34% 134,500 0.43%
Dutch 99,015 0.28% 110,490 0.33% 128,900 0.41%
Romanian 96,660 0.28% 90,300 0.27% 78,495 0.25%
Bengali 73,125 0.21% 59,370 0.18% 45,685 0.15%
Creoles 72,130 0.21% 61,725 0.19% 53,515 0.17%
Cree, n.o.s.[nb 7] 64,045 0.18% 77,900 0.24% 78,855 0.25% In the 2006 Census, this language was referred to simply as 'Cree'.
Hungarian 61,235 0.18% 67,920 0.21% 73,335 0.23% The majority of Hungarian speakers in Canada live in Ontario. A community of Hungarian speakers is found within a part of Windsor, Ontario.
Berber languages (Kabyle) n/a n/a 57,855 0.17% 25,578 0.08%
Serbian 57,345 0.16% 56,420 0.17% 51,665 0.17%
Croatian 48,200 0.14% 49,730 0.15% 55,330 0.18%
Japanese 43,640 0.13% 39,985 0.12% 40,200 0.13%
Chinese, n.o.s.[nb 7] 38,575 0.11% 425,210 1.28% 456,705 1.46%
Somali 36,760 0.11% 31,380 0.09% 27,320 0.09%
Inuktitut 35,215 0.1% 33,500 0.1% 32,015 0.1% In the 2006 Census, this language was referred to as 'Inuktitut, n.i.e.'.[nb 8]
Armenian 33,455 0.1% 29,795 0.09% 30,130 0.1%
Turkish 32,815 0.09% 29,640 0.09% 24,745 0.08%
Min Nan (Chaochow, Teochow, Fukien, Taiwanese) 31,795 0.09% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Malayalam 28,570 0.08% 16,080 0.05% 11,925 0.04%
Albanian 26,895 0.08% 23,820 0.07% n/a n/a
Ilocano 26,345 0.08% 17,915 0.05% 13,450 0.04%
Amharic 22,465 0.06% 18,020 0.05% 14,555 0.05%
Czech 22,295 0.06% 23,585 0.07% 24,450 0.08%
Khmer (Cambodian) 20,130 0.06% 19,440 0.06% 19,105 0.06%
Bulgarian 20,020 0.06% 19,050 0.06% 16,790 0.05%
Hebrew 19,530 0.06% 18,450 0.06% 17,635 0.06%
Niger–Congo languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 19,140 0.06% 14,075 0.04% n/a n/a
Nepali 18,275 0.05% 8,480 0.03% n/a n/a
Ojibway 17,885 0.05% 17,625 0.05% 24,190 0.08%
Slovak 17,585 0.05% 17,580 0.05% 18,820 0.06%
Pashto 16,910 0.05% 12,465 0.04% 9,025 0.03%
Macedonian 16,770 0.05% 17,245 0.05% 18,435 0.06%
Tigrigna 16,650 0.05% 10,220 0.03% 7,105 0.02%
Sinhala 16,335 0.05% 14,185 0.04% 10,180 0.03%
Bisayan languages n/a n/a 16,240 0.05% 11,240 0.04%
Telugu 15,655 0.05% 9,315 0.03% 6,625 0.02%
Finnish 15,295 0.04% 17,415 0.05% 21,030 0.07%
Yiddish 13,555 0.04% 15,205 0.05% 16,295 0.05%
Akan (Twi) 13,460 0.04% 12,680 0.04% 12,780 0.04%
Swahili 13,375 0.04% 10,090 0.03% 7,935 0.03%
Wu (Shanghainese) 12,920 0.04% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Oji-Cree 12,855 0.04% 9,835 0.03% 11,690 0.04%
Lao 12,670 0.04% 12,970 0.04% 13,940 0.04%
Danish 12,630 0.04% 14,145 0.04% 18,735 0.06%
Malay 12,275 0.04% 10,910 0.03% 9,490 0.03%
Bosnian 12,210 0.04% 11,685 0.04% 12,790 0.04%
Sindhi 11,860 0.03% 11,330 0.03% 10,355 0.03%
Kurdish 11,705 0.03% 9,805 0.03% 7,660 0.02%
Hakka 10,910 0.03% 5,115 0.02% n/a n/a
Dene, n.o.s.[nb 7] 10,700 0.03% 11,215 0.03% 9,745 0.03%
Afrikaans 10,260 0.03% 8,770 0.03% n/a n/a
Montagnais (Innu) 10,230 0.03% 10,785 0.03% 10,975 0.04% In the 2006 Census, this language was referred to as 'Montagnais-Naskapi'.
Slovenian 9,785 0.03% 10,775 0.03% 13,135 0.04%
Taiwanese n/a n/a 9,635 0.03% 9,620 0.03%
Serbo-Croatian 9,555 0.03% 10,155 0.03% 12,510 0.04% All varieties of Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian) combined would enumerate a total of 127,310 speakers (0.37% of total population).
African languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] n/a n/a 9,125 0.03% n/a n/a
Thai 9,255 0.03% 7,935 0.02% n/a n/a
Marathi 8,295 0.02% 5,830 0.02% n/a n/a
Bantu languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] n/a n/a 7,150 0.02% n/a n/a
Lithuanian 7,075 0.02% 7,245 0.02% 8,335 0.03%
Swedish 6,840 0.02% 7,350 0.02% 8,220 0.03%
Mi'kmaq 6,690 0.02% 7,635 0.02% 7,365 0.02%
Tibetan 6,165 0.02% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Atikamekw 6,150 0.02% 5,820 0.02% 5,250 0.02%
Canadian Gaelic n/a n/a 6,015 0.02% 6,015 0.02%
Fukien (Fuzhou dialect) n/a n/a 5,925 0.02% n/a n/a
Rundi (Kirundi) 5,845 0.02% 3,975 0.01% n/a n/a
Maltese 5,565 0.02% 6,220 0.02% 6,405 0.02%
Estonian 5,445 0.02% 6,385 0.02% 8,240 0.03%
Latvian 5,455 0.02% 6,200 0.02% 7,000 0.02%
Kinyarwanda (Rwanda) 5,250 0.02% 3,895 0.01% n/a n/a
Indo-Iranian languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 5,180 0.01% 5,255 0.02% n/a n/a
Oromo 4,960 0.01% 11,140 0.03% n/a n/a
Norwegian 4,615 0.01% 5,800 0.02% 7,225 0.02%
Tibetan languages n/a n/a 4,640 0.01% n/a n/a
Sino-Tibetan languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] n/a n/a 4,360 0.01% n/a n/a
Sign languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 4,125 0.01% 3,815 0.01% n/a n/a
Vlaams (Flemish) 3,895 0.01% 4,690 0.01% 5,660 0.02%
Lingala 3,810 0.01% 3,085 0.01% n/a n/a
Burmese 3,585 0.01% 2,985 0.01% n/a n/a
Stoney 3,025 0.01% 3,050 0.01% n/a n/a
Shanghainese n/a n/a 2,920 0.01% n/a n/a
Blackfoot 2,815 <0.01% n/a n/a 3,085 0.01%
Slavic languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 2,420 0.01% 3,630 0.01% n/a n/a
Semitic languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 2,155 0.01% 16,970 0.05% n/a n/a
Frisian 2,095 <0.01% n/a n/a 2,890 0.01%
Dogrib (Tlicho) 1,645 <0.01% n/a n/a 2,020 0.01%
Tibeto-Burman languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 1,405 <0.01% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Siouan languages (Dakota/Sioux) 1,265 <0.01% n/a n/a 5,585 0.02%
Algonquin 1,260 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,920 0.01%
Scottish Gaelic 1,095 <0.01% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Welsh 1,075 <0.01% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Carrier 1,030 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,560 <0.01%
Inuinnaqtun (Inuvialuktun) 1,020 <0.01% n/a n/a 365 <0.01%
Mohawk 985 <0.01% n/a n/a 290 <0.01%
South Slavey 950 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,605 0.01% Also known as Dene Yatıé or Dene Zhatıé, or Dené Dháh.
Gitxsan (Gitksan) 880 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,180 <0.01%
North Slavey 765 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,065 <0.01% Also known as Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́, K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́, and Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́.
Tsilhqot'in 655 <0.01% n/a n/a 1,070 <0.01% Also spelled Chilcotin.
Celtic languages, n.i.e.[nb 8] 530 <0.01% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Dënësųłıné n/a n/a n/a n/a 525 <0.01%
Michif 465 <0.01% n/a n/a n/a n/a
Shuswap (Secwepemctsin) 445 <0.01% n/a n/a 935 <0.01%
Nisga'a 400 <0.01% n/a n/a 680 <0.01%
Malecite 300 <0.01% n/a n/a 535 <0.01%
Kutchin-Gwich’in (Loucheux) 260 <0.01% n/a n/a 360 <0.01%
Tlingit 95 <0.01% n/a n/a 80 <0.01%
Other languages n/a n/a 77,890 0.2% 172,650 0.55%
Multiple language responses 818,640 2.35% 639,540 1.9% 392,760 1.26%
English and French 165,335 0.48% 144,685 0.4% 98,630 0.32%
English and a non-official language 533,260 1.53% 396,330 1.2% 240,005 0.77%
French and a non-official language 86,145 0.25% 74,430 0.2% 43,335 0.14%
English, French, and a non-official language 33,900 0.1% 24,095 0.07% 10,790 0.03%
Total[161][162][163] 34,767,250 100% 33,121,175 100% 31,241,030 100%

Language used most often at work

Language used most often at work
Language % of total population (2006)[164] % of total population (2016)[165]
English 76.36% 76.49%
French 20.22% 19.17%
Non-official 1.49% 1.38%
English and French 1.37% 2.07%
English and non-official 0.47% 0.77%
Other[i] 0.09% 0.12%

Language used most often at home

Language used most often at home
Language % of total population (2006)[166] % of total population (2016)[167]
English 65.89% 63.75%
French 21.15% 19.97%
Non-official 11.11% 11.5%
English and non-official 1.3% 3.7%
English and French 0.3% 0.46%
Other[j] 0.24% 0.63%

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ a b Algic languages:
  2. ^ a b Inuit languages:
  3. ^ a b Iroquoian languages:
  4. ^ a b Na-Dene languages:
  5. ^ a b Plains Sign languages:
  6. ^ a b Plateau Sign languages:
    • ʾa·qanⱡiⱡⱡitnam
    • Secwepemcékst
  7. ^ a b Salishan languages:
  8. ^ a b Siouan languages:
  9. ^ a b Tsimshian languages:
  10. ^ a b Wakashan languages:
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Also known as the "Slavey language(s)," these languages are grouped into the North (Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ spoken by the Sahtu Dene, the Hare Dene dialect of K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́, and the northern mountain dialect of Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́) and South (Dene Yatıé or Dene Zhatıé, and Dené Dháh used predominately by the Dene Tha' in Alberta). There is a sizeable push to end of the use of the name Slave or Slavey in relation to these Dene nations.[8]
  2. ^ First Language of Nova Scotia[1][2]
  3. ^ 200,725 Canadians, or less than one per cent of the population, report an Aboriginal language as their mother tongue.[3]
  4. ^ Nearly 148,000 people reported speaking both a language other than English or French most often and a second language other than English or French on a regular basis at home. The term "immigrant languages" refers to languages (other than English, French and Aboriginal languages) whose presence in Canada is originally due to immigration. The document entitled Aboriginal languages in Canada, Catalogue no. 98‑314‑X2011003, in the Census in Brief series, provides more detailed information on this subject.[11]
  5. ^ 18,858,908 Canadians identify their mother tongue as English. 599,230 Québécois identify their mother tongue as English and of that 309,885 live in Montreal.[18]
  6. ^ Of the 33,121,175 Canadians only 9,960,590 report to having knowledge of the French language.[15]
  7. ^ a b c d e f n.o.s. – not otherwise specified
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n.i.e. – not included elsewhere
  1. ^ Nova Scotia has since enacted Miꞌkmaq as the province’s first language
  2. ^ The question on knowledge of languages allows for multiple responses. The following figures are from the 2021 Canadian Census.
  3. ^ a b 2021 census: Combined responses of the Chinese languages, including Mandarin (987,300), Cantonese (724,925), Min Nan, Hakka, Wu (Shanghainese), Min Dong, Chinese, n.o.s.,[nb 7] and Chinese languages, n.i.e.[nb 8]
  4. ^ a b 2021 census: Combined responses of Hindi (761,425) and Urdu (414,870) as they form mutually intelligible registers of the Hindustani language.
  5. ^ The 1991 Census was the first to ask Canadians whether they could conduct a conversation in a language other than English or French[147]: 50 
  6. ^ 2021 census: Combined responses of Iranian Persian (222,160), Dari, and Persian (Farsi), n.o.s.,[nb 7] as they form mutually intelligible registers of the Persian language, and as they were all categorized under "Persian" in previous censuses.
  7. ^ Including Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Serbo-Croatian, n.i.e.[nb 8]
  8. ^ 2021 census: Total number of speakers of the Cree-Innu languages, previously categorized under "Cree" in past censuses.
  9. ^ French and non-official language OR
    English, French and non-official language
  10. ^ French and non-official language OR
    English, French and non-official language


  1. ^ a b "Legislation Enshrines Mi'kmaw as Nova Scotia's First Language". Province of Nova Scotia (in English and Mi'kmaw). L'nu Affairs. 7 April 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Mi'kmaw Language Act (Bill 148). Nova Scotia Legislature. 1 October 2022.
  3. ^ "2011 Census of Canada: Topic-based tabulations – Mother Tongue - Detailed Aboriginal Languages (85), Languages Spoken Most Often at Home - Detailed Aboriginal Languages (85), Other Languages Spoken Regularly at Home - Aboriginal Languages (12), Age Groups (13A), Sex (3) and Area of Residence (6) for the Population Excluding Institutional Residents of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2011 Census". 24 October 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  4. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2017-08-02). "Language Highlight Tables, 2016 Census - Mother tongue by age (Total), % distribution (2016) for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census – 100% Data". Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  5. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2017-08-02). "Language Highlight Tables, 2016 Census - Knowledge of official languages by age (Total), % distribution (2016) for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census – 100% Data". Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  6. ^ a b Office Québécois de la langue française. "Status of the French language". Government of Quebec. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "Official Languages". Department of Culture and Heritage. The Government of Nunavut. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  8. ^ Mandeville, Curtis (21 July 2016). "Goodbye Great Slave Lake? Movement to decolonize N.W.T. maps is growing". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d "Official Languages". Northwest Territories Education, Culture and Employment. Government of the Northwest Territories. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  10. ^ Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser is quoted in The Hill Times, August 31, 2009, p. 14.
  11. ^ a b c "Linguistic Characteristics of Canadians". Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  12. ^ 1981: Statistics Canada, 1981, Population by Selected Mother Tongues and Sex, Showing Official Language and Home Language, for Canada and Provinces, Urban and Rural, (table 2), 1981 Census.
    1986: Statistics Canada, 1986, Population by Selected Mother Tongues and Sex, Showing Official Language and Home Language, for Canada and Provinces, Urban and Rural, (table 2), 1986 Census.
    1991: Statistics Canada, 1991, 2B Profile, 1991 – Provinces and Territories in Canada (table), 1991 (2b) detailed questionnaire, Provinces to Municipalities (database), using E-Stat (distributor), [1] (accessed 10.05.26).
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Further reading