Special activities are taking place across the country on September 8 to celebrate our official languages. For example, employees from participating federal institutions will have an opportunity to face off in a friendly competition to test their spelling skills during a bilingual dictation. The Commissioner of Official Languages will read the dictation text in a video posted on the DARE! OSEZ! website.
Employees and visitors in the Toronto area will also be able to take advantage of the day to visit the CN Tower and see an exhibition of political cartoons portraying events and political debates that have shaped Canada's relationship with official languages over the past 40 years. In Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, Linguistic Duality Day will be marked with a special bilingual presentation of the show Mosaika.
In 2009, the Clerk of the Privy Council announced that, in the future, Linguistic Duality Day would be celebrated annually on the second Thursday of September throughout the federal public service. This was the result of a desire to mark the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act that same year.
Now, every year, the second Thursday of September reminds us of this milestone anniversary. Most importantly, it is a time to reflect on the values associated with official languages. “The values of respect, generosity and integrity on which linguistic duality is based should inspire us all,” says Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages. “The Official Languages Act is not just a law that applies to federal services. It is more like the flag; in other words, a powerful symbol of Canadian identity around which people of all origins from every region of the country can rally, regardless of their mother tongue.” A core Canadian value, linguistic duality is also an economic asset and a factor in social cohesion and cultural enrichment worth celebrating.
It is no secret that more needs to be done to fully benefit from the edge that linguistic duality gives us and to fully respect Canada's two official languages. Why not take advantage of Linguistic Duality Day to consider these challenges and identify new ways to highlight official languages on a daily basis?
One way to start this reflection is to consult the resources on the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions website DARE! OSEZ!. On this website is a video that uses humour to illustrate the advantages of bilingualism, learning a second language and retaining it. The video, narrated by singer Andrea Lindsay, challenges public servants to use their second language every day.
The site also features a list of questions to encourage a discussion on official languages among colleagues. These questions will lead them to think about the current situation, talk about their concerns and outline possible solutions.
In addition, employees wondering who to contact for further information on their language rights and obligations will likely find the list of roles and responsibilities on the website very useful.
By September 8, the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions is planning to post an inventory of official languages resources and products that have been developed by various federal institutions. You will have access to a wide range of official languages tools, categorized by topic, all in one place!
For more information on the activities organized in your federal institution, contact the person responsible for official languages.