Infographic: The French Presence in the Northwest Territories

The French presence in the Northwest Territories. Details in text following the infographic.

Text version: The French Presence in the Northwest Territories

  • 10.3% of the population (4,275 people) can speak both English and French.
  • The number of people who can speak French has more than tripled since the 1950s!
  • French is the mother tongue of 3.1% of the population (1,267 people)
  • French is the first official language of 3% of the population (1,240 people)


  • 889 students are enrolled in French immersion (11% of eligible enrolment) (2016-2017)
  • 1,691 students are enrolled in core French (21% of eligible enrolment) (2016-2017)
  • 2 French-language schools (Pre-school to Grade 12)
    • Nearly 200 students (2017-2018)

Where do Francophones live?

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

Economic Regions

  • Region 1 (Inuvik): 5.5%
  • Region 2: 2%
  • Region 3: 0.4%
  • Region 4: 2.4%
  • Region 5 (Fort Smith, Hay River): 13.8%
  • Region 6 (Yellowknife): 75.9%

Where were Francophones born?

  • In the Northwest Territories: 13%
  • Elsewhere in Canada: 76%
  • Abroad: 12%


  • Newspaper: L’Aquilon
  • Radio: CIVR Radio Taïga FM 103.5 (Yellowknife)
  • Television: Unis TV, Radio-Canada video journalist


Throughout the year, the Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife and the Association franco-culturelle de Hay River organize many French-language activities and festivals.


  • The Rendez-vous de la Francophonie is celebrated each year throughout the Northwest Territories, with shows, flag-raising ceremonies and celebrations of French language and culture.


  • The Fête de la francophonie nordique showcases the diversity of the French-speaking people of the Northwest Territories.


  • 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. Today, there are 11 official languages in the territory.
  • Community groups play a leading role in Franco-Ténois vitality. The Association culturelle franco-ténoise, which became the Fédération franco-ténoise, was founded in 1978.
  • In 1997, the Conseil scolaire francophone was created under Yellowknife Education District No. 1. In 2000, the Conseil became the Commission scolaire francophone, which manages its schools as a completely independent entity.
  • In 1999, the largest part 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 in the Northwest Territories following the creation of the new territory.


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