A language of Canada

Alternate Names
Mi’gmaq, Mi’gmaw, Mi’gmawi’simg, Micmac, Miigmao, Restigouche
L’nui’simk, Míkmawísimk

6,690 in Canada (2016 census), decreasing. No monolinguals. Ethnic population: 14,200 (1998 SIL). 1,500 are in mainland Nova Scotia, 4,000 on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, 800 on Prince Edward Island and Lennox Island, 4,550 on the east coast of New Brunswick, 3,150 on the Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, 200 in Newfoundland. Total users in all countries: 6,900.


New Brunswick province: Big Cove, Burnt Church, Eel Ground, Eel River Bar, Fort Folly, Indian Island, Pabino Falls, and Red Bank; Newfoundland and Labrador province: Newfoundland Island, 1 settlement south of Millertown; Nova Scotia: Afton, Bear River, Shubenagadie, Pictou, Truro, and Yarmouth, on Cape Breton Island: Chapel Island, Eskasoni, Memberto, Waikoqomaq, and Wakmatkuq; Prince Edward Island province; Quebec province: Gesgapeqiaq, Gespe’q, and Listuguj on east Gaspé peninsula.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Language of recognized indigenous peoples: Abegweit, Acadia, Annapolis Valley, Bear River, Buctouche MicMac, Eel Ground, Eel River Bar, Elsipogtog, Esgenoopetitj, Eskasoni, Fort Folly, Glooscap, Indian Island, Micmac de Gespeg, Lennox Island, Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government, Membertou, Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq, Miawpukek, Micmacs of Gesgapegiag, Millbrook, Pabineau, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw, Pictou Landing, Potlotek, Qalipu Mi’kmaq, Sipekne’katik, Wagmatcook, We’koqma’q.


Northern Micmac, Southern Micmac. Generally dialects are intelligible, but there are lexical, inflectional, word order, and spelling differences.


Polysynthetic language; fairly free word order.

Language Use

In some communities, only older adults. Virtually extinct in 5 communities, 4 of which are in English-speaking areas (Shubenagadie, Truro, Eel River Bar, Pabineo Falls) and the 5th in French-speaking Gaspé, Quebec. In larger areas children tend to begin speaking some Micmac, except in Listuguj, where some families educate children in French. In communities such as Gesgapegiaq, use is more vigorous. Each community has a committee or group whose task is to help enhance the language and culture. Prayers, songs, readings. Some young people, all adults. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng], French [fra].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 1%–17%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75%. 800 or more readers of Micmac, 200 write it. Oral and written courses exist in most schools in the primary grades. Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. NT: 1874–1998.


Latin script [Latn]. Micmac Hieroglyphs (Kauder ideograms) script [Qabg], no longer in use.

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.

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