The latest information from Statistics Canada’s 2021 census shows a shift in language demographics among Castlegar’s population.
While some languages such as Punjabi, Spanish and Korean grew, others declined, resulting in an overall loss of 60 of those who claim a mother tongue other than French or English.
In the 2016 census, 1,040 residents reported a mother tongue other than one of Canada’s official languages. That number dropped to 980 with the 2021 census.
The languages that saw the biggest drops between censuses were Russian (from 390 to 305) and Portuguese (from 130 to 110). Both of those languages have long histories in Castlegar, but have been declining for years. A decade ago, the 2011 census reported 445 people whose mother tongue was Russian and 165 who began their lives speaking Portuguese.
Germanic languages also dropped by 35 to 100.
The language that saw the largest growth was Punjabi, increasing by 40 speakers to 105. As a whole, Indo-Iranian languages (including Punjabi) jumped from 95 to 140.
Next was Korean, which increased by 30 from 10 speakers to 40.
Spanish (30), Tagalog (25), Thai (15) and Gujarati (10) all increased by 10 speakers.
The community has 310 people who report they speak a language other than English or French at home most often.
About 15 per cent of the city’s population reported having knowledge of a language other than English or French.
Language information was available for 8,205 residents. While 6,980 people reported speaking English first, only 80 people grew up speaking Canada’s other official language, French. No one reported being able to only speak French and only 450 residents reported being able to speak both English and French.