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Mandarin now top spoken language in Vancouver for those not using English or French at home

More than 170 languages are spoken Metro Vancouver homes.

In Vancouver, more than a quarter of residents speak a non-official language when at home.

Around 27.6 per cent of Metro Vancouverites don't usually speak English or French when at home, according to StatsCanada. That's the highest such percentage in Canada, more than a full percent of second-place Toronto, and accounts for more than 722,000 of Metro Vancouver's 2.6 million residents.

"Each year, large urban centres are the destination of a significant proportion of immigrants who settle in Canada, which helps to increase the diversity of these centres," notes the federal agency.

For Vancouverites who don't speak English or French at home, they're most likely to speak Mandarin according to the stats, with more than a fifth of those (152,800) not speaking an official language at home using the Chinese language. Just behind it is Punjabi (19 per cent) and Yue/Cantonese (18 per cent). After those three it drops off drastically, with Korean in fourth with six per cent. All other languages make up the other 36 per cent.

This is similar to Toronto, which also sees Mandarin, Punjabi and Yue/Cantonese in the top three slots, but at much lower rates. In Montreal it's much different, with Spanish and Arabic outpacing other languages.

In Metro Vancouver there are a vast array of languages used, with somewhere around 170 separate languages spoken at home in the city by at least five people. That includes the Celtic Welsh language from Great Britain, the Edo language from Niger, and around 200 people speaking Kannada from southwest India.

However, it was also noted that many whose mother tongue is not English or French still use one of the official languages at home.

"English and French, remain the languages of convergence—meaning that they are learned, spoken and adopted as the languages of everyday life by many Canadians for whom neither is their mother tongue," states StatsCanada.

Indigenous languages have continued to see a decrease in use, though there are efforts to keep some alive. Around 189,000 say an Indigenous language is their mother tongue.

"The number of individuals reporting an Indigenous mother tongue, alone or with another language, declined 6.8% from 2016 to 2021 in Canada, while the number of individuals reporting they could have a conversation in an Indigenous language decreased by 3.3% over the same period," reports StatsCanada.

In Vancouver, Indigenous language speakers are rare, with only 110 census respondents saying they speak a language like Tlingit, Squamish or Cree at home; Cree languages, in general, were the most common response in Vancouver, where historically the Salish and Wakashan languages were used by locals First Nations.