Archived - Commissioner looks forward after linguistic shortfalls of the 2010 Olympic Games

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Ottawa, December 14, 2010 – A lack of understanding of official languages responsibilities and a serious misstep in the opening ceremony undermined the opportunity to showcase Canada’s linguistic duality at the Olympic Games, according to Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser’s final report on the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“It was apparent that, in several areas, the official language requirements in the multi-party agreement signed by the organizing committee and Canadian Heritage were rather vague and unclear,” said the Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s report reveals that English and French were well represented overall at the Games, and now, building on this experience, the time has come to look forward.

Mr. Fraser advised that “for future large-scale events in Canada, official language requirements must be specific and clear to ensure that organizing committees grasp the importance of linguistic duality, understand their official languages obligations and plan adequately.” Federal institutions participating in or funding similar events must also take a rigorous approach to monitoring the planning and implementation of official languages activities.

“I would like to see the linguistic legacy of the Vancouver Games carry over to future Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as other large-scale sporting events in Canada,” said the Commissioner.

Mr. Fraser noted that he will publish a guide in early 2011 based on the lessons learned at the Vancouver Games. The guide will help federal institutions and organizing committees of future large-scale sporting events to better understand, plan, implement, and monitor their activities toward the full respect and inclusion of English and French.

“The upcoming Pan American and Parapan American Games that will take place in the Greater Toronto Area in 2015, for example, can benefit from the lessons learned at the Vancouver Games,” said Mr. Fraser. “We are working proactively with the organizers of those Games to ensure that linguistic duality is fully represented and respected.”

“Special events like the Olympic Games are a great opportunity to promote linguistic duality, a key component of Canadian identity. For these events, it is important to make an effort to properly represent our country, our culture, our values, and our symbols. All Canadians should be able to recognize themselves in the image of Canada that is presented to the world,” concluded the Commissioner.

Please consult the report for further details.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Nelson Kalil
Manager, Media Relations
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368

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