Inuktut remains strong in the Inuit homeland
83 per cent of Inuit speak language; 94 per cent think it’s important
Nunavik continues to lead other Inuit regions with the highest percentage of Inuktitut speakers out of all the Inuit Nunangat regions of Canada, with 99 per cent of Nunavimmiut able to conduct a conversation in the language.
In Nunavut, that percentage was still high but dropped slightly to 89 per cent of Inuit — about nine in 10 — who can speak Inuktut.
A much smaller proportion speak Inuktut in Canada’s other Inuit regions: 25 per cent in the Inuvialuit settlement area and 20 per cent in Nunatsiavut.
Those numbers come from new “fact sheets” for Inuit Nunangat, compiled by Statistics Canada with data collected through the 2011 National Household Survey and the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey.
Throughout the Inuit regions, 83 per cent of Inuit reported the ability to carry out a conversation in Inuktut, most often Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun or Inuvialuktun, while 77 per cent reported Inuktut as their mother tongue.
That figure drops further when you include Inuit outside Inuit Nunangat, where 68 per cent of of Inuit report Inuktut as their mother tongue.
It’s the second most spoken Indigenous language in Canada.
The overall number of Inuktut speakers in the Inuit homeland sits at slightly more than 36,000.
The Aboriginal Peoples Survey found that 94 per cent of Inuit aged six and older report that speaking and understanding an Indigenous language is important. Outside the Inuit Nunangat, that rate dropped to 61 per cent.
The strength and continuity of Inuktut will continue to rely on how well the language is absorbed by Inuit youth, who make up the majority of the Inuit population in Canada — 56 per cent are under the age of 25.
That percentage is fairly consistent across Inuit Nunangat; Nunavik has the highest percentage of youth population under 25, at 58 per cent, while Nunatsiavut’s youth population sits at 44 per cent.
You can see Statistics Canada’s fact sheets for each region here.