New statistics show that over the past five years the province of Saskatchewan has undergone a vast shift in terms of its linguistic landscape thanks to an influx of immigrants from all over the world.
Data from the 2011 census demonstrate that since 2006, there are 16 new languages thriving in the prairie province, including languages from the Philippines, China and Africa. Experts cite increased immigration levels as the cause of the change, as more newcomers are arriving to fill job vacancies in the booming province.
“Prior to 2006, we had maybe 500 immigrants coming to Saskatoon a year,” said community development manager Lynne Lacroix. “Now we are currently receiving on average 4,000 to 5,000 immigrants per year.”
The city of Saskatoon has shifted its settlement services to address the needs of newcomers who, through the Newcomer Information Center, can take language classes for free.
Immigrant advocates also recognize the increasing trend for newcomers to remain mostly centered in ethnic and linguistic communities and not learning the new language. To address this concern policymakers have begun translating city documents into more than a dozen languages. The local police service has also recently launched a translation initiative to help law enforcement officers communicate with newcomers who may not be fluent in English. Currently, officers have access to 50 languages through volunteer translators in the city.
Source: Saskatoon Star-Pheonix