Cen­sus to re­veal depth of lan­guage di­ver­sity

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Reis Pag­takhan em­pha­sizes the plu­ral when he talks about the Filipino gro­cery stores, restau­rants, news­pa­pers and ra­dio pro­grams that now pop­u­late Win­nipeg, decades af­ter his fam­ily first came to the city.

This week, Pag­takhan’s ob­ser­va­tions about the rise of Ta­ga­log in Win­nipeg are ex­pected to get some sta­tis­ti­cal back­ing when the lat­est tranche of cen­sus data de­tails Canada’s lin­guis­tic di­ver­sity. It is an­tic­i­pated that the lan­guage heard in those Filipino stores and restau­rants and on ra­dio shows _ Ta­ga­log _ will be among the fastest-grow­ing since 2011. For Pag­takhan, the change around Win­nipeg is a far cry from when his par­ents ar­rived in Canada in the 1960s and there were only a few hun­dred Filipino fam­i­lies in the re­gion.

Now, “you have tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from the Philip­pines who are here, many of whom speak Ta­ga­log. ? It’s just spo­ken wide­spread,’’ said Pag­takhan, an im­mi­gra­tion lawyer.

Wed­nes­day’s re­lease about the lan­guages that Cana­di­ans re­port as their mother tongue or be­ing spo­ken at home will pro­vide a peek at Canada’s eth­no­cul­tural di­ver­sity, which the na­tional statis­tics of­fice will fully re­veal this fall with data from the re­cently re­turned long-form cen­sus.

In Fe­bru­ary, cen­sus data showed that the na­tional pop­u­la­tion would have been po­ten­tially far be­low 35.15 mil­lion if not for an in­flux of im­mi­grants that Statis­tics Canada said ac­counted for about two-thirds of the pop­u­la­tion in­crease be­tween 2011 and 2016. Im­mi­gra­tion will be the dom­i­nant source of growth by 2056, Statis­tics Canada pre­dicts, as nat­u­ral, fer­til­ity-fu­elled growth de­clines due to an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion _ for the first time, there are more se­niors than chil­dren 14 and un­der _ and a de­clin­ing birth rate.

The fig­ures com­ing this week are ex­pected to show some 200 lan­guages are spo­ken in Canada, with seven mil­lion peo­ple _ or more _ say­ing their mother tongue is nei­ther English nor French.

“Once you start to see all the dif­fer­ent lan­guages that are spo­ken, it re­ally speaks to the pro­found di­ver­sity of our Cana­dian pop­u­la­tion,’’ said Michael Haan, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the school of so­ci­ol­ogy at West­ern Univer­sity in Lon­don, Ont.

The fig­ures will add another di­men­sion to the por­trait of Canada the five-year cen­sus be­gan paint­ing ear­lier this year. Ad­di­tional lay­ers will be added later this year, in­clud­ing in­come data in Septem­ber, im­mi­gra­tion and Indige­nous Peo­ples num­bers in Oc­to­ber, and fig­ures de­tail­ing ed­u­ca­tion, jobs and work pat­terns in Novem­ber.

The lat­est re­lease will also in­clude data about fam­i­lies, re­veal­ing changes in mar­riage rates, how much longer Cana­di­ans are wait­ing to start fam­i­lies, and how many fam­i­lies live un­der dif­fer­ent roofs _ be it be­cause one par­ent is work­ing in another part of the coun­try, or be­cause they are older par­ents choos­ing to live apart.

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