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.
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