British Columbia

French language appreciation growing in B.C., suggests Insights West poll

The majority of British Columbians support Canada's two official languages and believe French is an integral part of Canadian identity, according to a new poll.

Canadian Parents for French attributes the growth to increasing French language education

Over 220,000 B.C. students are learning French in school, according to Canadian Parents for French. (CBC)

The majority of British Columbians support Canada's two official languages and believe French is an integral part of Canadian identity, according to a new poll commissioned by the B.C. and Yukon chapter of Canadian Parents for French

Glyn Lewis, the organization's executive director, said more than 220,000 B.C. students are learning French, with 48,000 of them in French immersion programs.

"The more families who are touched by these programs and who benefit from the programs, I think public sentiment shifts with that," said Glyn Lewis, the executive director of the organization.

The poll indicates that, today, 66 per cent of people in B.C. believe that French is integral to Canadian identity, compared to only 44 per cent in a similar poll conducted 15 years ago

Support for Canada's two official languages has also grown: today, 70 per cent of British Columbians support bilingualism, as opposed to 63 per cent in 2002.

Languages in B.C.

The Insights West poll also indicates that 93 per cent of people in B.C. believe learning more than one language is important for children.

Data from Statistics Canada's 2011 census suggests that 15.6 per cent of British Columbians speak a non-official language at home.

The most commonly spoken non-official languages in B.C. (as a percentage of the total population) are:

  • Punjabi: 4.5 per cent
  • Cantonese: 3.2 per cent
  • Chinese, not otherwise specified: 2.9 per cent
  • Mandarin: 2.2 per cent
  • German: 1.8 per cent

Parents for French said 300,000 people in B.C. — or close to seven per cent — self-identify as being able to speak French. 

The poll was commissioned by Canadian Parents for French B.C. and polled 815 people and was conducted online from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4, 2015. 

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