Destination Yukon — it ain’t what it used to be

The number of immigrants living in the Yukon has dropped 45 per cent in the last century. The territory, which used to have the highest numbers of…

The number of immigrants living in the Yukon has dropped 45 per cent in the last century.

The territory, which used to have the highest numbers of immigrants of any jurisdiction in Canada, is now significantly lower than the national average, said Gary Brown of the Yukon bureau of statistics.

Currently 10 per cent of Yukoners were born outside of Canada, said Brown, pointing to figures from Statistics Canada’s 2006 census.

“We’re the highest of the territories, but pretty much half the Canadian average,” he said.

“In 1911 (when the Yukon had 8,512 people), 55 per cent of the population was born outside of Canada. That was a spillover from prospecting and the gold rush days.”

By the 1980s that had dropped to about 12 per cent, he said.

In 2006, 3,290 of the 30,195 people living here were foreign born, according to Statistics Canada.

In 2006, 20 per cent of the 31.2 million people living in Canada were immigrants, down from 22 per cent in 1911.

Last year, Ontario had the highest percentage of foreign-born Canadians with 28.3 per cent, followed by BC at 27.5 per cent, and Alberta at 16.2 per cent.

Nunavut had the fewest immigrants, at 1.6 per cent, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, 1.7 per cent, and PEI at 3.6 per cent.

In Yukon, Americans made up the largest number of foreign-born residents, at 670, followed by Western Europeans at 835.

From there, people came from all over the world, including 80 people from Africa, 100 from the People’s Republic of China, 165 from the Philippines, 75 from India, 65 from South America, 25 from the Caribbean and Bermuda, and 15 from Italy.

The Yukon also has a wide array of languages, according to Statistics Canada’s census.

Of the 30,195 Yukoners, 29,940 identified English as their mother tongue, the language they first learned at home in childhood and still understood at the time of the census.

Next on the list was French, with 1,105 Yukoners naming it as their mother tongue, followed by aboriginal languages at 880, German at 775, Tagalog (Filipino) at 145, Dutch at 140, and Spanish at 130.

There are also Yukoners who speak Italian, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Bosnian, Bulgarian, some form of Chinese, Czech, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Tamil, Japanese, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, Shona, and Igbo.