Archived - Language commissioners meet for first time, call on governments to step up effort

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Sudbury, August 30, 2010 — The country’s five language commissioners (Canada, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario) are calling on the federal and provincial governments to step up their efforts to ensure the vitality of official languages. The commissioners made their appeal during the Language and Territory International Conference, which is being held at Laurentian University in Sudbury this week.

During a workshop, the five ombudsmen gave presentations on the status and challenges of official languages in their respective jurisdictions. While status varies from one province or territory to another, the commissioners believe that major efforts are needed to enhance the vitality of minority-language communities. They believe that linguistic and cultural diversity enriches all peoples and should be promoted and respected more fully, particularly in this era of globalization.

This is the first time that the country’s five language ombudsmen have all met together to take stock of the status of official languages. The encounter was extremely beneficial, and they plan to repeat the experience.

Here are quotes from each of the five language commissioners:

Michel Carrier, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
“To ensure the vitality of minority-language communities, we need to aim higher and go further. Since the enactment of the first Official Languages Act in New Brunswick in 1969, the province has made remarkable progress. However, significant challenges remain, and strong, steadfast leadership is vital in order to overcome them.”

François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario
“The presence of Francophones in Ontario goes back more than 400 years. Numbering over 600,000, Ontario’s French-speaking population contributes to the economic, cultural and social development of the province. All stakeholders, including community, social and government representatives, must continue to work together to ensure the protection, promotion and dissemination of the French culture in minority communities.”

Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada
“As the Official Languages Act enters into its fifth decade, I believe that the Canadian experience is worth examining, because it is testament to the willingness and the capacity to create different spaces—geographical, virtual, philosophical—which encourage and validate the use of the minority language. This experience illustrates the possibility of both language and spatial planning.”

Sarah Jerome, Languages Commissioner of the Northwest Territories
“I am so pleased to be part of this gathering. It is critical that we work together to protect, promote and preserve official languages throughout Canada. This is a wonderful opportunity to share our stories and our struggles, as well as our successes and dreams. I am confident that we will all move forward with a common purpose.”

Alexina Kublu, Languages Commissioner of Nunavut
“Being able to express oneself in one’s own language is an important democratic right. That is why it is crucial that we work together as Languages Commissioners across the country to discuss ways to safeguard language rights.”

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For more information or to schedule an interview with one of the five language commissioners, please contact:

Robin Cantin
Director, Strategic Communications and Production
Telephone: 613-995-9356
Toll-free: 1 877-996-6368
Cellular: 613-324-0999

New Brunswick
Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Telephone: 506-444-4229

Northwest Territories
Linda Noseworthy
Administrative Assistant
Telephone: 867-669-5575

David Shadbolt
Public Affairs Officer
Telephone: 867-975-5125

Mohamed Ghaleb
Analyst, Research and Monitoring
Telephone: 416-314-8247
Toll-free: 1 866-246-5262
Cellular: 416-906-7021

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