Beadwork and boots being sold by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association. A survey from StatsCan reveals the number of Indigenous people who make handmade crafts. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Beadwork and boots being sold by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association. A survey from StatsCan reveals the number of Indigenous people who make handmade crafts. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Survey reveals number of Yukoners who speak Indigenous languages

Yukon is behind Nunavut and Northwest Territories when it comes to language retention

New data on language fluency and cultural practices have been released by Statistics Canada, part of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey conducted in 2017.

The survey included 4,510 individuals in the territory who identified themselves as First Nation, Inuit or Metis. Around 60 per cent overall said they could speak or understand an Aboriginal language.

That was well ahead of the national average of 37 per cent across Canada, but fell short of Nunavut and the Northwest Territory’s rates of 96 per cent and 67 per cent.

The survey broke down the levels that people could communicate, and found just 6.2 per cent said they could speak the language “very well or relatively well” while 11 per cent could understand “very well or relatively well.”

Around 50 per cent of respondents said they could speak and understand the language “with effort” or only felt confident with a few words. Finally, 39 per cent of respondents did not speak or understand an Indigenous language.

The survey also broke down those responses by age. Overall, elderly Indigenous Yukoners were much more likely to understand their language. As groups became younger, they reported having much less fluency than the previous generation.

The survey also broke down how common harvesting activities were and the creation of handcrafted goods, along with their motivation for undertaking those traditional practices.

In total, 56 per cent of respondents said they had hunted, fished or trapped in the past 12 months. In total 49 per cent of respondents said they had gathered wild plants in the past 12 months.

Very few people reported that they undertook those activities to supplement income. Instead, most reported hunting, fishing or trapping for their family, others in the community or for pleasure.

Around 900 people, or 20 per cent of respondents, said they had made clothing or footwear in the past 12 months, while 25 per cent reported having made carvings, drawings, jewelry or other kinds of artwork.

The majority of people who made clothing said they did it for their pleasure or their family’s usage.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

First NationsWhitehorseYukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A competitor takes a jump in front of a crowd at the Mount Sima Up Hill Challenge in Whitehorse on April 17. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Spring shred: Snowmobiles gather on Mount Sima for 2021 Uphill Challenge

Riders had a sunny and warm day on the hill, but still plenty of snowpack on the uphill course.

Sheila MacLean tosses her winter blues in the fire to be burned away in Whitehorse on March 24, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Burning permits will be revoked April 25

The Whitehorse Fire Department extended the open burning season

Maura Forrest/Yukon News File photos from Beaver Creek White River First Nation
Bessie Chassé elected as new chief of White River First Nation

“I was happy that the membership saw that I was ready for this position.”

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 21, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Yukon MP Larry Bagnell speaks at an announcement in Whitehorse on July 8, 2019.
Federal budget includes changes to Northern Residents Deduction, minimum wage, green energy funds

The massive budget included some rare references to the territory.

Doug Bell photographed in Whitehorse in 2008, for an article about his role as Yukon Commissioner in the early 1980’s. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon remembers former commissioner Doug Bell

Bell passed away in Whitehorse on Sunday, at the age of 94.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Most Read