Government of Canada
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Francophonie in Nunavut today

Mylène Bellerose
Official Languages
Government of Nunavut


Nunavut's Francophones are in a unique position in Canada. That's because Nunavut is the only jurisdiction where the mother tongue of most residents is neither English nor French. Approximately 67% of the territory's 31 725 residents have the Inuit language as a mother tongue (Statistics Canada, 2012A). Here is a snapshot of today's Franco‑Nunavummiut.

Mother‑tongue Francophones, numbering 435 people in total, account for 1.4% of Nunavut's population. If the number of people able to hold a conversation in French is taken into account as well, this number rises to 3.9%, for a total of 1 235 people. Of these people, French is the language spoken most often at home for 250 Nunavummiut (Statistics Canada, 2012A).

The vast majority of mother‑tongue Francophones, i.e. 375 people (or 86%), live on Baffin Island, including 315 in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital. About 20 of them live in the Kitikmeot Region, and close to 40 in the Kivalliq Region (Statistics Canada, 2012B). Most Francophones live in Nunavut on a temporary basis, staying an average of two to three years (CIRLM, 176). About 58% of the Francophone population is from Quebec (CIRLM, 105). Francophones move to Nunavut for various reasons: some may be visiting and decide to stay (a fairly common occurrence), others arrive looking for new adventures, and some find job opportunities or are simply looking for an alternative life experience (CIRLM, 178 182).

Exogamous unions (unions made up of one Francophone and one non‑Francophone) are part of Nunavut's reality. In 2006, in the case of 86.2% of the children born to one parent whose mother tongue was French, the other parent's mother tongue was other than French (38.8% had English as a mother tongue, and 47.4% had a mother tongue other than English) (Statistics Canada 2011, 18‑19). Moreover, close to 31% of the student body of École des Trois‑Soleils—Nunavut's only French‑language school—is of Inuit origin (CSFN, 2).

Since the 1980s, the Francophone community has established many institutions and organizations to represent its interests: the Francophone Association of Nunavut; a Francophone school board; Carrefour Nunavut (a non‑profit organization promoting social entrepreneurship, tourism and employability); a French health services network; the Petits Nanooks daycare centre; and a Francophone parents' association. In Nunavut, information can be obtained in French through two Francophone community media outlets: CFRT 107.3 radio and the newspaper Le Nunavoix. With all of these services, it is definitely possible to live in French in Nunavut!



Vitality of Francophone Communities in the Territories.

STATISTICS CANADA, 2012A. Focus on Geography Series, 2011 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98‑310‑XWF2011004. Ottawa, Ontario. Analytical Products, 2011 Census. Last updated October 24, 2012.

STATISTICS CANADA, 2012B. 2011 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-314-XCB2011026 (Nunavut, Code62).

STATISTICS CANADA, 2011. Portrait of Official‑Language Minorities in Canada: Francophones in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Catalogue no. 89 642‑X — No. 003.