New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces, and the only officially bilingual province (French and English) in the country. The provincial Department of Finance estimates that the province's population in 2006 was 729,997 of which the majority is English-speaking but with a substantial (32%) French-speaking minority of mostly Acadian origin.
First Nations in New Brunswick include the Mi'kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet). The first European settlers, the Acadians are descendants of French colonists of Acadia, a French colony in what is today Nova scotia. The Acadians were expelled by the British (1755) for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to King George II which drove several thousand French residents into exile in North America, the UK and France during the French and Indian War. American Acadians, who wound up in Louisiana and other parts of the American South, are often referred to as Cajuns.
Many of the English-Canadian population of New Brunswick are descended from Loyalists who fled the American Revolution. This is commemorated in the province's motto, Spem reduxit ("hope was restored"). There is also a significant population with Irish ancestry, especially in Saint John and the Miramichi Valley. People of Scottish descent are scattered throughout the Province with higher concentrations in the Miramichi and in Campbellton. A small population of Danish origin may be found in New Denmark in the northwest of the province.
|City||2011||2006||Land Area km²||Density /km²|
|Greater Saint John||127,761||122,389||3,362.95||38.0|
|Town||Population (2011)||Population Ranking||Land Area km²||Area Ranking||Density /km²||Density Ranking|
|English Canadian / Canadien||415,810||57.78%|
The information at the left is from Statistics Canada  Percentages add to more than 100% because of dual responses e.g. "Danish-Canadian" generates an entry in both the category "Danish" and the category "Canadian". Groups with more than 3,000 responses are included.
|Visible minority and Aboriginal population (Canada 2006 Census)|
|Population group||Population||% of total population|
|Visible minority group
|Visible minority, n.i.e.||150||0%|
|Multiple visible minority||455||0.1%|
|Total visible minority population||13,345||1.9%|
|Multiple Aboriginal identity||100||0%|
|Total Aboriginal population||17,650||2.5%|
Compared to other provinces, New Brunswick has a relatively even split of French and English population. As a comparison, the minority language communities of Ontario and Quebec (Franco-Ontarians and English-speaking Quebecers respectively) make up less than 10% of those provinces' populations. With both official language communities so strongly represented, New Brunswick is home to both French and English language hospitals and healthcare networks, school systems, universities, and media. The province also has a relatively high proportion of people who state that they can speak both official languages, with about 246,000 people, or 33.2% of the population reporting the ability to speak both English and French (though Francophones make up two-thirds of those who are bilingual).
Language policy remains a perennial issue in New Brunswick society and politics. Recurring debates have arisen in regards to interpretation of the provincial bilingualism policy, duality (the system of parallel French and English speaking public services), and specifics of implementation. The extent of the provincial policy on bilingualism means that a new row is never far off in the New Brunswick news cycle. The French-speaking community continues to advocate for full funding of French-language public services and fair representation in public sector employment, while some Anglophones (and Francophones) fear that the system of duality is financially inefficient and its extent is not worthwhile, or that the provincial governments targets for bilingualism in public employment are hurting their chances to work for the government, as Anglophones are less likely than Francophones to be proficient enough in both official languages to use them in employment.
The province's bilingual status is enshrined in both provincial and federal law. The Canadian Constitution makes specific mention of New Brunswick's bilingual status and defines the spirit of implementation as one based on both community and individual rights (in contrast with the constitutional protections for the other provinces that is limited to individuals, though this extends to "community" issues in terms of provision of schooling etc.). The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a number of New Brunswick specific articles and makes specific mention of New Brunswick in each section relating to language (ex. Section 18 has two paragraphs, the first regarding bilingual publication of the Canadian Parliaments work and laws, the second specifying that New Brunswick's legislature will publish its work in both French and English). Of particular interest is Article 16.1, which declares that the French and English speaking communities of New Brunswick have equal rights and privileges, including community specific educational and cultural institutions. This specific distinction of linguistic community is important in that it recognizes not only the rights of individuals to use their language, but also demands that the two official language communities have their specific institutions upheld.
New Brunswick's official languages are shown in bold. Figures shown are for the number of single-language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses. During the 19th century Scottish Gaelic was also spoken in the Campbellton and Dalhousie area. The language died out as a natively-spoken language in the province in the early 20th century.
In 2012, New Brunswick francophones scored lower on the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies than their anglophone counterparts in New Brunswick.
Note: "n.i.e.": not included elsewhere
There were also 45 single-language responses for Gujarati; 135 for Niger-Congo languages n.i.e.; 70 for Creole; 95 for Non-verbal languages (Sign languages); 115 for Japanese; 30 for Indo-Iranian languages n.i.e.; 5 for Somali; 20 for Sinhala (Sinhalese); and 40 for Malayalam. New Brunswick's official languages are shown in bold. (Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses.)
There were also 195 immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo; 180 from Vietnam; 170 from Colombia; 165 each from Hungary and Romania; 155 each from Belgium and El Salvador; 140 each from Greece and Ireland (Éire); 125 from Poland; 120 each from Afghanistan and South Africa; 115 from Ukraine; 110 from Guyana; 105 each from Denmark and from Trinidad and Tobago; and 100 from Austria.
A total of 64,205 people moved to New Brunswick from other parts of Canada between 1996 and 2006 while 83,240 people moved in the opposite direction. These movements resulted in a net outmigration of 8,410 people to Alberta, 4,330 to Ontario, 2,930 to Nova Scotia, and 1,995 to Quebec. During this period there was a net outmigration of 2,125 francophones to Quebec, 1,460 francophones going to Ontario, 1,355 to Alberta and 145 to Nova Scotia; and also a net influx of 240 anglophones from Quebec. (All net inter-provincial movements of more than 500 persons and official minority movements of more than 100 persons are given.)
|- Total Catholic2||386,035||53.6||366,155||49.8|
|- Total Protestant||260,695||36.2||249,820||34.0|
|- United Church of Canada||69,235||9.6||54,270||7.4|
|- Anglican Church of Canada||58,210||8.1||51,365||7.0|
|- Protestant, Other3||24,200||2.6||45,910||6.2|
|- Christian Orthodox4||565||0.1||980||0.1|
|No Religious Affiliation||56,440||7.8||111,435||15.1|
|- Other Religions5||1,970||0.3||1,915||0.3|
|- Aboriginal Spirituality||360||0.1||525||0.1|
1 The 2011 data is from the National Household Survey and so numbers are estimates.