Other Official Languages in Canada.

AuthorDavison, Charles
PositionSpecial Report Canada as a Bilingual Country

Canada is known around the world as an officially bilingual country. Federally, French and English share equal status as the "official languages." The same is true in some of the provinces and territories. What is perhaps not known as widely (in southern Canada, at least) is that there are other official languages in two territories: Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.


In Nunavut, the "Inuit Language" is an official language, along with English and French. Interestingly, which "Inuit Language" is official depends in which geographical area of the territory you are:

* In the northeast (around Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, and the Bathurst Inlet area), Iniunnaqtun is the official language.

* Inuktitut is the official Inuit Language for the rest of the territory.

* The government may declare both Iniunnaqtun and Inuktitut to be the official languages depending on the place and the purpose.

Declaring the local Inuit Language to be an official language makes sense when one considers that the population of Nunavut is overwhelmingly of Inuit descent (over 80%) though not all speak an Inuit Language.

However, residents in many of the more remote, smaller and traditional communities often speak the local Inuit Language more than any other language.

The Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories has the widest selection of official languages in Canada with eleven languages. In addition to English and French, nearly all of the Aboriginal languages used by sizable segments of the population have official status.

The nine other official languages of the Northwest Territories are:

  1. Chipewyan (spoken mainly in the southeastern corner of the territory, in the areas of Fort Smith and Fort Resolution and westwards toward Hay River);

  2. Cree (spoken in the same regions as Chipewyan);

  3. South Slavey (spoken in the southern part of the territory from Hay River to Fort Liard);

  4. Tlicho (spoken in the area to the west of Yellowknife);

  5. North Slavey (spoken in the Sahtu region along the Mackenzie Valley and around Great Bear Lake);

  6. Gwich'in (spoken in the western part of the Mackenzie Delta, including the communities of Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson);

  7. Inuvialuktun (spoken in the western Arctic, around Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour);

  8. Inuuinnaqtun (spoken in Uluhaktuk, and elsewhere in the Northwest Territories bordering the western edge of Nunavut); and

  9. Inuktitut (spoken mainly in the far Eastern Arctic in what used to be part of...

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