Census looks at language

  • Feb. 13, 2008 9:00 a.m.

More than 9 percent of the aboriginal population living in Skidegate and Old Massett say their mother tongue was an aboriginal language, according to Statistics Canada – a higher percentage than in the BC aboriginal population as a whole. Across the province, 7.4 percent of people who identified themselves as aboriginal reported that their mother tongue was an aboriginal language. In Skidegate, 9.2 percent of the aboriginal population learned Haida as their mother tongue, according to figures gathered in the 2006 census and just released by Statistics Canada. In Old Massett, the figure is 9 percent. But when respondents were asked about whether they have any knowledge of an aboriginal language currently, responses were very different in the two villages. In Skidegate, almost one in seven people reported that they knew some Haida, with the rest reporting knowledge of English only. In Old Massett, about one in 13 people knew some Haida. The census also asked people whether they spoke an aboriginal language most often at home, with almost 5 percent of Skidegate residents reporting yes, and 2.3 percent of Old Massett residents reporting yes. In Masset, which has a substantial aboriginal population, none of the people identifying themselves as aboriginal reported having an aboriginal language as a mother tongue, speaking an aboriginal language most often at home, or having knowledge of an aboriginal language. Just under 5 percent reported knowing English and French, with the rest saying they knew English only.