ARCHIVED - Québec City, January 12, 2012

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Speaking notes for the Molson Foundation
immersion scholarships award ceremony

Graham Fraser – Commissioner of Official Languages

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Good morning.

It is a great honour to be here again and celebrate your accomplishments as young Anglophones who wish to continue their university studies in French.

Given the challenges facing your generation, both nationally and internationally, it is reassuring to know that so many young Canadians are bilingual and value our country’s linguistic duality.

I have not always been bilingual—learning French, my second language, began when I was a student at the University of Toronto. It was at that time that I became interested in learning French, in discovering this other Canadian culture and in getting to know the people of Quebec.

Learning French gave me the opportunity to acquire skills that would serve me all my life and have a career in Canada’s two official languages.

I lived in Quebec for many years, including a long stay here in Québec City with my family when I was a reporter for the Montréal Gazette and The Globe and Mail.

A life-long journey involving the French language is the lot of many people. Journalists, lawyers, athletes, politicians, researchers and many others have chosen, like you, to live this linguistic experience. Today, these people cannot imagine being unilingual. Living in English and French allows us to get to know the world all Canadians live in, regardless of which official language they speak.

This is quite the challenge that you are prepared to overcome, and it’s not for everyone. But by succeeding, you will be giving yourself a highly valuable gift—a key to knowledge. Living and studying in another language allows us to discover a world that we would not otherwise have known and to better understand all the nuances and emotions of a country founded on linguistic duality.

I would like to thank the Molson Foundation for its invaluable contribution. The scholarships, awarded annually to deserving students, highlight the importance of the private sector’s participation in promoting the linguistic duality of our country.

And as Commissioner of Official Languages, I would be remiss if I did not mention the exemplary cooperation between the Molson Foundation and Laval University. This cooperation lets us not only highlight the achievements of outstanding students, but also celebrate Canada’s linguistic duality. It also draws attention to the importance of establishing closer ties between the English- and French-speaking communities in Canada.

You will be in good hands here and will have access to top quality teaching and resources, since Laval University is one of the largest Francophone universities in Canada. And even though the campus is so big that you can find everything you want without ever having to leave it, I invite you to explore Québec City—you will discover a magnificent city, friendly people and an important part of the history of your country.

I hope that your stay here will lead you to discover a rich and unique culture and deepen your learning of French. I wish you much success throughout this journey.

Thank you.