2019 Canada Winter Games: Three Reasons to Celebrate our Linguistic Duality

Man with a “Hello Bonjour” shirt, holding a Canadian flag

For many people, February means romantic dinners, cinnamon hearts and chocolate. This year, for Canadians, the month of love also means the arrival of a major quadrennial sporting event! The 27th edition of the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta, officially opens on February 15, 2019, and will bring together up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches, as well as upwards of 20,000 visitors. Here are three reasons why it’s important to promote our official languages during the Games:

1. We can communicate with 98% of Canadians using English and French.

The Canada Games are a multi-sport competition involving athletes from all provinces and territories. Official languages need to be taken into account if an event is to be representative of the entire country. In Canada, three quarters of the population speak English as their first official language, while French is the first official language spoken by nearly a quarter of Canadians, or eight million people.

2. Two million Canadians live in official language minority communities.

Among those two million Canadians are English speakers living in Quebec and French-speaking Canadians living in the other provinces and territories. In Alberta, where Canada Winter Games will be held this year, the number of people whose mother tongue is French increased 22% from 2011 to 2016, and the number of people who speak French most often at home increased 53% during the same period. Being able to fully enjoy national events in the official language of their choice is essential for the development of these linguistic minority communities.

3. Bilingualism has many advantages.

The Canada Games are a great way to support young people in their development. Just like sports, bilingualism paves the way for a world of opportunities. According to some studies, being bilingual helps you to make better decisions, be more insightful and be open‑minded, as well as helping to delay the onset of dementia. And just as sports provide a work ethic and discipline that will serve athletes throughout their lives, bilingualism can also be a factor in landing a good job, travelling to exciting destinations, communicating more effectively with people, gaining a deeper understanding of other cultures and contributing to a wide variety of communities.

The 2019 Canada Winter Games are much more than a sporting competition. They’re also a great opportunity for Canadians to celebrate their identity—and linguistic duality is a fundamental part of that identity. Come February, let’s show our pride and respect for our two official languages during this major national event.

Published on Thursday, January 31, 2019

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