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‘Language being valued’: French spoken more than ever in Saskatchewan homes

Montmartre is just one of many communities in Saskatchewan with a rich French history.
Montmartre is just one of many communities in Saskatchewan with a rich French history. Courtesy / Tripadvisor

French is being spoken more than ever in Saskatchewan, despite a declining mother tongue population.

A recent report by Statistics Canada showed the bilingual rate in the province increased by 4 .7 per cent from 2001-16.

As of 2016, 51,360 people reported they could hold conservation in both English and French.

Denis Simard, assemblée communautaire fransaskoise president, said there are two factors regarding the increase — immigration and anglophones learning French through immersion programs.

READ MORE: Thames Valley District School Board restricts French immersion entry to Grade 1

“The French language is one of the founding languages, not only of the country, but of the province,” Simard said.

“Having that presence continue is great, but on top that, having the language being valued, having a lot of parents understanding if their kids learn French it’s an asset for them — whether it’s working in the federal government or even working internationally.”

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French spoken as a mother tongue has decreased 9.2 per cent over the 15 year period, while French as a first official language spoken decreased by 12.7 per cent.

Simard said the numbers shouldn’t be alarming.

“Most of our families [in Canada] used to five, six, eight, 10 kids. It’s the same in the Francophone community in Saskatchewan, there used to be very large families,” Simard said.

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“Now, we have the standard one, two, three, four kids instead of the 10, 12 that used be the norm.”

With Saskatchewan’s rich history of French, Simard said it’s important to keep the language and culture thriving.

“There were equal explorers, equal tradesmen who showed up and decided it was a land of plenty and wanted to establish themselves,” Simard said.

“We’re quite happy to being living in Western Canada — there’s a large sense of pride in our community.”

The report indicated that 1.5 per cent of people living in Saskatchewan speak French at work.