Demographic Vitality

The French language


Of the Territories' 41,055 inhabitants, 9,500 have a mother tongue other than English (mainly Aboriginal languages such as Dogrib and South Slavey). According to Statistics Canada, a total of 1,025 inhabitants have French as their mother tongue, but a total of 1,060 inhabitants have it as their first spoken official language - meaning French is their main language of use regardless of their mother tongue. It should be noted, however, that the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics records higher numbers, totalling around 1,200 Francophones.

Though eleven different languages are spoken, the most recent census showed that 96.6% of the population of the Northwest Territories had English as the first official language spoken."
 

Population by Mother Tongue, 2006, Northwest Territories

Population by Mother Tongue, 2006, Northwest Territories

Data from: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census


French 1,025
English 31,905
Non-official languages 8,495
Total population 41,055


Note: Some people declared having more than one mother tongue.
As a result, the total of the categories exceeds territorial population.



Population by First Official Language Spoken, 2006, Northwest Territories

Population by First Official Language Spoken, 2006, Northwest Territories

Data from: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census


French 1,060
English 39,675
Neither English nor French 320



Note: Some people have more than one first official language spoken.
As a result, the total of the categories exceeds provincial population.

A significant increase in the number of Francophones


The number of people with French as a mother tongue in the Northwest Territories (pre-1999 borders) almost tripled between 1951 and 1996. The increase was particularly significant from 1951 to 1961, owing to the rapid expansion of the mining industry around Yellowknife. Oil drilling and large infrastructure projects continued to attract large numbers of people from the South, including many Francophones, until the early 1990s.

...and stable percentages


The creation of Nunavut in 1999 resulted in a fall in numbers but a rise in the relative weight of the Franco-tenois portion of the total population of the Northwest Territories. In 1996, 2.1 % of the population had French as the first official language spoken. This percentage rose to 2.6% in 2001 and remained at this level in 2006.
 

French as Mother Tongue and French as First Official Language Spoken, 1951-2006, Northwest Territories


French as Mother Tongue and French as First Official Language Spoken, 1951-2006, Northwest Territories

Data from: Marmen and Corbeil, 2004 and Statistics Canada

*The first official language spoken variable did not exist prior to 1991
** The decrease in the population of the Northwest Territories in the 2001
Census is due to the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

A population representative of Canada


The population of the Northwest Territories is very young, with a median age of 31. The Francophone community is much more representative of the situation in Canada as a whole, with a median age of 42 years.

The Francophone population of the Northwest Territories is made up mostly of adults. Only about 20% of the total Francophone population is under 20 years old. In comparison, half the Francophone population is between 20 and 49 years old, reflecting the particular economy of the Northwest Territories, which is largely dominated by resource industries. Among Francophones in the Territories, family units are few in number and young people are rare. The consolidation of French-language educational institutions might help the Franco-tenois community to renew its base.
 

Age Distribution, 2006, Francophones, Northwest Territories

Age Distribution, 2006, Francophones, Northwest Territories

Data from: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census