Notes for an address at the launch of Atlantic Region Official Languages Week 2021

May 17, 2021
Raymond Théberge - Commissioner of Official Languages

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Hello everyone.

It is my great pleasure to be here with you today as part of this event to kick off Atlantic Official Languages Week.

Although today’s meeting is taking place virtually, it is important to mention that I am speaking to you from Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishinabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the home of the Métis Nation.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the organizing committee for inviting me once again to be a part of this event, which celebrates our two official languages.

I’d also like to commend the Atlantic Federal Council on this excellent initiative, which is still unparalleled in Canada. Thank you for continuing to make official languages a priority and for being an official languages leader.

The theme you’ve chosen this year—“Two Languages, Many Cultures, One Public Service!”—is very fitting as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canada’s official multiculturalism policy.

Our linguistic duality lies at the heart of the Canadian values of inclusiveness and diversity. Over the course of our history, accommodating two languages has helped Canadians understand that diversity and difference are strengths, not weaknesses, and to some extent has fostered greater openness toward other cultures.

Indeed, a strong majority of Canadians agree that Canada is a more welcoming place for immigrants because of its two official languages.

Official languages are also an important value for Canada’s public servants. My office recently published a study on linguistic insecurity in the federal public service, and I was pleased to note that many English-speaking federal employees who work in designated bilingual regions want to use French more at work.

Francophone federal public servants would also welcome more opportunities to use French at work. These findings underscore the importance of creating a work environment conducive to the use of both official languages and the important role that managers and supervisors need to play in building that environment.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a linguistically inclusive workplace, and leaders at all levels can really set the tone.

When you use both official languages and encourage others to do so, you help to create conditions for a workplace culture that values English and French equally. You’re welcome to check out the top ten practices we’ve posted on our website that leaders can follow to create a linguistically inclusive workplace.

I’d like to congratulate the Atlantic National Managers’ Community on being an official languages leader by organizing the panel on language security and insecurity, which will be broadcast tomorrow as part of Atlantic Official Languages Week activities.

I wish you all a very happy Atlantic Official Languages Week and encourage you to celebrate this special week by participating in the activities that have been planned for you!

On a final note, I’d like to extend my congratulations to everyone who receives an Official Languages Recognition Award today. Thank you for the leadership and influence you’ve brought to your institutions.

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