Growth of the Indigenous population in Canada continues to rapidly outpace that of the rest of the country, but Indigenous languages need more revitalization efforts, according to census data released by Statistics Canada (http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm).
Between 2006 and 2016, the self-identified Indigenous population g
rew by 42.5%—from 1,172,790 to 1,673, 785—a rate four times that of the rest of the population, according to Stats Can. The agency is projecting the Indigenous population to hit 2.5 million within the next two decades.
While a longer life expectancy and high fertility rates affected the figures, an increase of people self-identifying as Indigenous—particularly as Métis and nonstatus First Nation—propelled the continued growth rate in the population, Johanne Denis, director general of Stats Can’s social and demographic statistics, told the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
At 587,545, the Métis population is the fasting-growing subsegment of the Indigenous population, rising to 51% of the total over the last ten years. The status and nonstatus First Nations population grew to 977,230, increasing by 39% between 2006 and 2016, and the Inuit population rose to 65,025, up 29.1% over the same time span.
The Stats Can census registered 70 Indigenous languages spoken across the country. The data found that 260,550 people reported being able to speak an Indigenous language, an increase of only 3.1% since 2006. Over the same period, there was a decrease in people who reported being able to converse in an Indigenous language, dropping to 15.6% from 21.4%.
However, the data also found that more people had learned an Indigenous language (260,550 people) than reported it as their mother tongue (208,720), which “suggests that many people, especially young people, are learning (Indigenous) languages as second languages,” said the Stats Can report.
About 64% of Inuit reported being able to speak Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun, and other Inuit languages, while the figure was 84% for Inuit living in the homelands of Inuit Nunangat.
The Indigenous languages with the most speakers fell under the Algonquian language group—Cree and Ojibway—with 175,825 reporting an ability to speak the tongues.