Language and Culture Maintenance Programmes in Canada

  • Joti Bhatnagar


Ever since General De Gaulle’s declaration of ‘Vive Québec libre’, the problems of French minorities in Canada have received world-wide attention. Because of this preoccupation with French-English relations the extent of Canada’s ethnic diversity as a nation is often forgotten. It is not generally recognised that Canada has always been, and continues to be, inhabited by ethnically heterogeneous groups. Before the ‘discovery’ of Canada by Europeans, the 250,000 to 300,000 people who lived in the territory that now constitutes Canada belonged to about 50 societies and dozens of linguistic groups, (Brunet, 1979). Massive immigration coupled with conquest and physical extermination turned the original inhabitants of Canada into politically and economically insignificant minorities in a land of minorities. Canada has no majority group. Of the total population of 22 million, 6 million are French-Canadians, 10 million British-Canadians and another 6 million belong to that bothersome category ‘other’. Even this does not give a true picture of the Canadian demographic scene. The three big cities — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — absorb an overwhelming proportion of new immigrants to Canada, resulting in a large concentration of immigrants in these metropolitan areas. The 1971 census figures, our last official census, show that in Toronto, for example, close to half of the household heads were born outside Canada, another one-fifth had at least one foreign-born parent and only 29 per cent were born in Canada and had both Canadian-born parents.


School Board Immigrant Child Migrant Child Canadian Society Language Class 
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Copyright information

© Gajendra K. Verma and Christopher Bagley 1982

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  • Joti Bhatnagar

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