Infographic: The French Presence in the Northwest Territories

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The French Presence in the Northwest Territories. Details in text following the infographic.
Text version: The French Presence in the Northwest Territories

Text version: The French Presence in the Northwest Territories

French is the first official language of 1,083 people (2.6% of the population).

3,715 people can speak both English and French (9% of the population).

The number of people who can speak French has more than tripled since the 1950s!

698 students are enrolled in French immersion (9% of eligible enrolment).

1,808 students are enrolled in core French (22% of eligible enrolment).

In 2015, nearly 220 students were enrolled in 2 French-language schools (Kindergarten to grade 12).

Where do francophones live?

Most Franco-Ténois live in the Yellowknife area, while others have settled in Fort Smith, Inuvik, and Hay River.

Economic regions: (percentage of the population whose first official language is French)

  • Region 1 (Inuvik): 6%
  • Region 2: 2%
  • Region 3: 1%
  • Region 4: 3%
  • Region 5 (Fort Smith, Hay River): 13%
  • Region 6 (Yellowknife): 76%

Where were they (francophones) born?

More than ¾ of Francophones in the Northwest Territories moved there from elsewhere in Canada.

  • In the Northwest Territories: 13%
  • Elsewhere in Canada: 77%
  • Abroad: 10%


The Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife hosts a number of French-language events and festivals throughout the year.


French explorers began exploring the land in what is now the Northwest Territories starting in the 1600s and continued to be active in charting the territory and creating fur trade routes into the 18th and 19th centuries.

English became the sole official language by law in 1892, and French was not re-established as one of the Northwest Territories’ official languages until 1984. The Association culturelle franco-ténoise was created in 1978, and later became the Fédération franco-ténoise.

In 1999, more than half of the Northwest Territories separated to become the new territory of Nunavut. Because the vast majority of the population of Nunavut speak Inuktitut and English, the proportion of French speakers increased following the creation of the new territory.



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