Arabic has become the most spoken language in Hamilton homes after English, pushing out Italian and Portuguese, which is an indication that immigration patterns are changing.
Statistics from last year’s Canada-wide census shows that more and more Hamiltonians are speaking Arabic at home. Rana Aldibs from the YWCA in Hamilton says many people who use the facility, speak Arabic.
“The language barrier was an issue for them. That’s why we came up with this idea at the YWCA to change some signs around the building.” .
She says having signs in Arabic helps members feel more at home.
“At least they can read some of the signs if they can’t find anyone to help them with that”
The influx of Syrian refugees is most likely contributing to the popularity of Arabic in Hamilton homes. Eman Elmasri is employed at the Immigrants Working Centre on Main Street. She’s been in Canada for 20 years and speaks Arabic at home, but her children have a harder time.
Over 5,000 Hamiltonians speak Arabic at home, beating out the 4,800 who speak Italian. Spanish takes the number three spot at over 4,200.
In the Niagara region Italian, Spanish and Mandarin are the top three foreign languages spoken at home.
In Burlington, Spanish is at number one, followed by Arabic and Mandarin.