WHEN Nasir Mirlohi moved to North Vancouver from Iran four years ago with his wife and son, they joined the almost 11,000 people on the North Shore whose first language is Farsi.
Mirlohi, 37, said his family still speaks mainly in Farsi at home. But after four years in the school system, his son, now 13, is fluent in both Farsi and English.
"We sometimes have to explain things in English to him," said Mirlohi.
He hopes that his son grows up continuing to be fluent in both languages, and is making an effort to make sure he's exposed to both.
"It's hard, but at the end it's worth it," he said.
Mirlohi and his family are among more than 26 per cent of the North Shore population that list a language other than English or French as their first language.
That's lower than the 40 per cent figure seen across the Greater Vancouver region as a whole, but in keeping with the wide diversity of languages likely to be heard at bus stops and in groceries stores around the Lower Mainland.
The information released this week by Statistics Canada pointed to Farsi, the Persian language, as the language most likely to be spoken on the North Shore other than English. Other prominent languages spoken include Mandarin, Cantonese and other Chinese languages. Together, more than 7,400 people on the North Shore list those as their first language. More than 3,000 people on the North Shore list Korean as their first language.
Tagalog, the language of a growing number of immigrants from the Philippines, is the first language of more than 2,700 people.
While English is still spoken as a first language by the majority, more than 30 per cent of the population in both West Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver now list a language other than English or French as their mother tongue. A smaller percentage of them - between 16 and 17 per cent - say their first language is the one most often spoken at home.
In West Vancouver, more people - 3,345 - listed Chinese languages as their mother tongue than any other non-official language. Farsi and Korean were the second and third most prevalent languages.
Farsi is spoken by 4,235 people in the District of North Vancouver, while 2,850 people speak Chinese languages.
In the City of North Vancouver, 3,390 people list Farsi as a first language, while Tagalog is a mother tongue to 1,465 people and 1,175 people speak Korean.
City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto said the growing diversity is something civic leaders have to respond to if they want to engage their citizens. "It is evolving," he said, noting the library has a collection of books in other languages.
As the second generation of Iranians to immigrate to Canada, Mirlohi said he suspects he's had an easier time fitting in to Canadian society than older generations did. Canadians, too, are more used to living in a place made up of people from elsewhere, he said.
"They understand our multicultural issues."