Canadian census data on Aboriginal languages

Map showing principal Inuit language dialect groups in the Arctic. Many linguists still disagree on the number of Inuit language dialects in the Arctic and how they the should be defined. Photo courtesy Wikimedia commons. Licensed under Creative Commons - Share Alike License.Canada’s 2011 census data on Aboriginal languages was big news across the country on Wednesday.

Overall, the findings suggest that the use of indigenous languages is declining across the country.

But there were some interesting statistics concerning Aboriginal languages spoken in the country’s North.

Inuit languages came in second among the top-three reported Aboriginal language families with 35,500 people, of those, 34,110 people reported Inuktitut as their mother tongue. The majority of those people lived Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut or in Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec.

(The number one group was the Algonquian languages reported by 144,015. The Athapaskan languages came in third with 20,700 speakers.)

There’s been a series of efforts in the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, Greenland and Russia to preserve and encourage the use of Inuit languages dialects across the North. Statistics like those released today in Canada are a reminder of why so many working on these issues are feeling such a sense of urgency.

Related Links:

Aboriginal Languages in Canada, Statistics Canada

Uniting Voices: Inuit Language in Transition, Eye on the Arctic

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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