Archived - Notes for the presentation of the 2011–2012 Award of Excellence – Promotion of Linguistic Duality at the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award
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Montréal, October 18, 2012
Graham Fraser - Commissioner of Official Languages
Check against delivery
Beginning of dialog
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to thank the Quebec Community Groups Network for inviting me tonight. I am honoured to be here for the fourth annual Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award ceremony.
It’s important to take the time, as we are doing here this evening, to recognize individuals within the community who have demonstrated leadership through community involvement, work or volunteering. You are a source of inspiration, and every day you shape Canada’s history with your actions.
As Commissioner of Official Languages, I applaud your leadership and passion. I am particularly pleased to see Greta Chambers again, and to meet Father Walsh and hear about the wonderful work he has been doing. And I have a very distinct memory of David Angus: when I applied for my current job and had to appear before the Senate and the Committee of the Whole, he was one of the people interviewing me.
In 2009, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages established the Award of Excellence – Promotion of Linguistic Duality. The Award recognizes individuals or organizations—that are not subject to the Official Languages Act—who promote linguistic duality in Canada or abroad, or contribute to the development of Canada’s official language minority communities.
It is my honour to present this year’s Award of Excellence – Promotion of Linguistic Duality to veteran journalist and broadcaster Bernard St-Laurent. I first met Bernie during a student strike at Laval University in 1976–1977. Back then, he was a law student—on strike—so he got a job as driver for The Globe and Mail’s Quebec correspondent and toured around the province both during and after the election campaign. This was a transformative experience for Bernie, because after the strike ended, he didn’t go back to law school—he became a journalist instead, and that’s what he has been doing ever since.
Over the years, Bernie has been sought out for his insights and observations about the relationship between English and French Canadians, whether in Quebec or in the rest of the country, or even in the Eastern Townships where he spent many years as CBC’s Québec City correspondent. He has also been sought out by the French media to explain English-Canadian culture, and by the English media to explain French-Canadian culture.
In 1998, Bernie co-created C’est la vie, an award-winning CBC radio show that showcases Francophone culture across the country, exploring arts and culture, sports, science and business. This show is one of the few, if not the only, nationally aired programs whose mandate is to explain French-speaking Canada to English-speaking Canadians. It is extremely popular and has been used by parents, teachers and students alike. C’est la vie approaches issues with humour, presents different points of view and stimulates discussion. It gives English-Canadians a way to understand current events and issues that are not necessarily making the headlines, that are not necessarily part of what we define as news, but that are still important to be able to comprehend the nature of Canada’s official language communities.
The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages congratulates Bernard St‑Laurent for his outstanding work in promoting Canada’s linguistic duality throughout his remarkable career. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to present this award to him.