Canada in Focus: Bilingual, But More

Canada may be officially bilingual — but in reality, it’s a land of many languages.

Produced by Canada’s History

Posted November 1, 2022

It’s one of the first things visitors to Canada notice about our country — we use both English and French. But are most Canadians actually bilingual?

Whether we eat cornflakes, or flocons de maïs for breakfast, most of us understand at least a little of the other language.

But why does Canada have two official languages?

In the last episode of Canada in Focus, host Jodi Kristjanson explains how Canada evolved to be a bilingual nation, while hundreds of thousands also speak an Indigenous language. And because people come here from all over the world, you can hear any of 150 or more different languages, from Punjabi to Cantonese, Spanish to Urdu, Tagalog to Arabic. It’s a uniquely Canadian mix.

Watch the series

Canada in Focus: War and Peace

Is Canada really a “nation of peacekeepers?”

Canada in Focus: Making It Count

The generations-long struggle for voting equality in Canada.

Canada in Focus: A Promise to Share

Were Canada’s Treaties based on a major misunderstanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?

Canada in Focus: Free Health Care?

Who pays for Canada’s health-care system? And, how did it come to be?

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History provides a much-needed context for understanding current topics and conversations in today’s society. It helps us understand notions of change, impact, and progress and provides us with tools for interpreting the world around us. In an era of misinformation and increasing divisiveness, history is needed more than ever for encouraging deep thinking and respectful dialogue.

Canada in Focus is a five-part video series that seeks to explain the historical context of current Canadian topics and issues by tracing a current topic back through history, highlighting key events and turning points.

Each video is accompanied by related support material (see below), including teachers’ manuals and strategies, so viewers can engage with the content more deeply.

Language Rights

In this guide, educators share how they teach the history of language rights in Canada in the classroom, including advice, online resources, books, and lesson plans.

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