Addressing duality and bilingualism: it’s time to start reaching out to each other – Mathieu Wade

The French version of this commentary is available here.

Is unilingualism a right? A small group of unilingual Anglophones seems to think so and has launched yet another plea to abolish duality and bilingualism in New Brunswick. Official languages in New Brunswick, they claim, have set up a system that disproportionately favors bilingual Francophones over unilingual Anglophones. The creation of a unilingual Facebook group called New Brunswick Referendum on Bilingualism 2014 has attracted over 6,000 members and the petition it launched, asking that a referendum be held on official bilingualism in the province has gathered a little over 2,200 signatures. The mayor of Fredericton’s recent remarks calling to abolish linguistic duality have sparked yet another dialogue of the deaf.

This marginal, though vocal movement is fueled by legitimate, but poorly articulated frustrations. We must stress that the movement is indeed marginal. The number of signatures it has managed to gather in the past months corresponds to the popular support for the CoR in the 1999 elections and to a third of the votes obtained by the very marginal People’s Alliance of New Brunswick in the 2014 elections. By contrast, a petition asking the government to keep early French immersion in 2008 had gathered over 3,000 signatures in less than 48 hours and another one asking for Dieppe to adopt a bylaw on bilingual signage in 2010 had over 4,000 thousand signatures. More recently, a petition against shale gas exploration gathered over 16,000 signatures.

This protest against linguistic duality and official bilingualism is marginal, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a mature discussion about language in this province. If such a dialogue is to happen, though, we need to move away from our old reflexes. Unilingual Anglophones cannot constantly blame bilinguals for their problems and must find solutions other than always taking rights away from the Acadians. Acadians, for their part, need to acknowledge that, though their linguistic situation is particular, Anglophones can and do have linguistic issues of their own.

There won’t be a referendum any time soon. It would mean no less than opening up the Canadian constitution. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss our linguistic arrangements as well-wishing citizens. In order to do so, we need to stop pointing fingers and accept to acknowledge that we are in this together, whether we like or not.

What do the protestors want?

Protestors claim to be fighting for equality for unilinguals and criticize both linguistic duality and official bilingualism.

Against duality

Two main arguments are presented against duality. First, they argue, it’s too expensive for our have-not province. We can’t afford to have overlapping administrative structures, which, they claim, double our costs. We could save money by having one single bilingual health system, and one single bilingual school system.

Second, they claim that duality creates unjust social and linguistic segregation. This system does not enable Anglophones to become sufficiently bilingual to function in our society, thus making them second-class citizens. Unilinguals are forced into exile or unemployment. Putting an end to duality would put an end to our segregation and would enable our youth to stay and work in New Brunswick.

This leads them to their critique of official bilingualism.

Against bilingualism

Official bilingualism, they say, overwhelmingly favors Acadians. Too many jobs demand linguistic skills that unilingual Anglophones do not possess. Language, they claim, – and by this they mean French skills – should not override other skill sets and should not be a requirement for most jobs. Unilingual Anglophones have a right to work in their language, in their province and are now a dominated majority. Being a numerical majority, the Anglophones right to work in their own language should supersede the right of Francophones to do the same.

Are these propositions logical, fair and factual?

There are many problems with the way these protestors frame the language issue. They tend to mix up bilingualism and duality – Fredericton’s mayor calls for abolishing duality, while the petition and Facebook group are against bilingualism, though their arguments tend to be about both…

First, duality isn’t free, sure, but it doesn’t double our public sector. We don’t have twice as many health workers and teachers because of duality. Abolishing duality would not cut our costs in half. We wouldn’t have half as many students or half as many sick people. What duality does do is allow these professionals to work in their language, whether it’s French or English. As for administrative costs, they would only be reduced if we heavily centralized our services, but these would still need to be bilingual.

Second, there is indeed a linguistic segregation in New Brunswick, but merging our school systems would not be the fix all cure protestors claim it would be. More than 70% of Francophones are bilingual, against 16% of Anglophones. This is problematic to be sure, but merging our school systems would do little to fix this and would create new problems. Bilingual schools throughout the province would have completely different realities. Schools in Woodstock, Moncton and Caraquet would not have the same bilingual composition at all. The problem isn’t who’s in our schools; it’s what we teach and how it’s being taught. Moreover, if we merged our school systems, we would need bilingual teachers and administrators. We would need bilingual curriculum. Unilinguals would be disadvantaged even more… Be careful what you wish for!

Third, official bilingualism cannot be held responsible for unemployment amongst unilingual Anglophones, nor for our demographic decline. Unemployment rates are higher in Francophone regions of the province and all Atlantic Provinces face population decline. Official bilingualism only applies to public sector jobs, 39% of which are designated “bilingual”. If public sector jobs have linguistic requirements, it’s because of the laws of the market. It has nothing to do with our current law.

Unemployment is a real problem in New Brunswick, and I would argue that our rural economy and our poor use of our natural resources are more to blame for our current situation than official bilingualism is.

Crédit : Tourisme Frédéricton

Crédit : Tourisme Frédéricton

Changing the linguistic dynamic

Even though we live in an officially bilingual province, we have never put in the effort needed to actually become bilingual. In this sense, the protestors are right. Indeed, how can we explain that so few students graduate from English schools with conversational skills in French (less than 1%)? But where I can’t agree with them is when they say that since 40 years of official bilingualism and duality hasn’t enabled them to learn French, we should abolish these laws. Whose responsibility is it to teach and learn French?

Acadians are to blame, in part. They have historically used duality to disengage themselves from Anglophone New Brunswickers (this is understandable). Many examples attest to this. The provincial week of French pride (Semaine provinciale de la fierté française, which is kind of the equivalent of Black history month) is only held in Francophone schools. The Linguistic and Cultural Development Policy – A Societal Project for the French Education System focuses on language, culture and identity, but does not apply to Anglophones schools. Acadian civil society has made Francophone immigration a priority to counter assimilation and population decline, but hasn’t put any efforts in fostering bilingualism amongst its fellow citizens. Anglophones have never been considered potential Acadians, and one could argue that Anglophones have never considered themselves potential Acadians either.

But Anglophones also share a large part of the blame. Given the linguistic statistics in New Brunswick, Anglophone schools could and should have put some efforts to review their curriculum. And socially, awareness could and should have been raised concerning respectful linguistic interactions. Too often Anglophones resort to: “Sorry, I don’t speak French”, instead of making an honest effort. I once spent three weeks in Turkey and managed to learn, during that time, basic communication skills in Turkish and was able to have simple interactions with the locals. One simply needs to be willing to make the effort. Where are the intellectuals? Where are the advocates of bilingualism, those willing to make it a reality?

To all unsatisfied unilinguals, I suggest that you fight not to revoke some of the Acadians’ most fundamental hard earned rights, but to make language learning a priority in your schools. And to all Acadians, I suggest that you acknowledge that learning French in New Brunswick does not come naturally and that you lend a helping hand. We will go further by reaching out to each other than by trying to take away rights from each other. If we set ourselves this common goal and work together, we can and will do great things together.

Mathieu Wade is a sociologist. He is currently doing a PhD at l’Université du Québec à Montréal and teaches sociology at l’Université de Moncton.

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46 réponses à “Addressing duality and bilingualism: it’s time to start reaching out to each other – Mathieu Wade

  1. Response to Mathieu’s article – Yes! Unilingualism is an unalienable right or God given right. Speaking more than one language is a choice based on individual need and desire.
    The groups you refer to are asking to have the issue of duality placed on the table for review of cost and benefit to all in New Brunswick. Once on the table, it may be found it is beneficial and fair for all to pay for duality with our taxes, and if so, let it be, if not, let’s make changes to create a more prosperous, thriving environment for the future of all people and businesses in New Brunswick. Most people in New Brunswick agree with bilingualism as in its original intention which was government services offered in both official languages where and as numbers warrant, but this bilingualism is not what the French elite at U de M, SANB and the French Language Commissioner want. It is no longer about language, it is about power.
    You made an accurate statement when you stated Francophones are favored over Anglophones, given the following facts:
    1. French people in New Brunswick live in a predominantly English speaking province and have an inherent, constant need to use English media (books, television, movies, internet, etc). It’s natural they learn to speak some English from birth. Whereas, English do not have the luxury of living in a mainly French environment, therefore only have the opportunity to learn French in an education setting without daily interaction with French media or persons. Especially with the purposeful separation (segregation) of our children based on language!
    2. The English education system has failed to produce bilingual graduates for the past 40 years. Whether our children started French Immersion in grade 1, grade 3 or grade 5, less than 1% per year graduate at top level according to final testing results. The advanced level designation is still not considered to be bilingual!
    3. According to statements made by those who have taken the government language testing, the tests are not equal for French and English. Some say the French testing is set at a much higher standard than the English. This cannot be determined until both tests are examined by a non-partial party or parties, and government so far is not willing to have this done publicly.
    4. According to the 2011 Census, and as you stated, more than 70% of French are bilingual compared to 16% of English. This equals 163,470 French bilinguals and 76,790 English bilinguals. No equality is shown in those numbers.
    The groups have grown exponentially since this article was written. There is now a hard copy petition being distributed widely throughout the province and numbers are not being publicly announced until presentation in legislature. As you know our government does not accept online petitions. Most people that I have spoken with feel the language laws could be implemented better to reflect fairness and equality in New Brunswick, instead of creating an elite minority group, which is what we have now.
    Mayor Woodside did not call for abolishment of duality. He stated, “Bilingualism I understand, duality makes no sense. This should be on the table Mr Premier as we look to save money. You asked.” Mayor Woodside is merely stating that duality should be on the table for examination of the cost to all taxpayers versus the benefit to all in New Brunswick, just as healthcare, education, senior care and other important aspects of expenses are being looked at for saving
    Many of your statements reflect your personal opinion and that of the French elite only, that our concerns are marginal, but perhaps we should appease them with a discussion.
    We want discussion and action by our Premier and all stake holders (the English are stakeholders too) in a public and professional fashion. The French have a bi-annual guaranteed closed door discussions between SANB and the Premier. Why will the government not at least hear the concerns and suggestions of the English. As you say, we are all in this together. No more marginalizing and ignoring those who have legitimate concerns regarding the implementation of bilingualism and duality.
    There have been a number of tactics to stop the discussion since the inception of language laws in Canada. A number of people over the years have had threats to family, property and life itself for voicing concerns on the language laws. Some have been and are being called vulgar names like bigot and racist. Some are afraid to speak publicly regarding their concerns for fear of being labeled and ostracized from their community or workplace. Fear has been used for over 40 years to shut down anyone who has legitimate concerns regarding the language laws. It’s time to stop the bullying.
    Jean Marie Nadeau, previous director of SANB once stated in the Telegraph Journal that the English should be thankful that the French are only exploiting the English and not taking up arms. At the very least, he was honest, but his words were a wake-up call to many. If both sides are not considered within the language laws and their implementation it could very well come to arms at some point.
    English who have issues with the language laws are blaming the laws and how they are implemented, not the people. Also, keep in mind that many French people have issues with the language laws and their implementations as well! The growing groups show this to be the case. Since the inception of Canadian language laws in 1969 there has NEVER been a language right revoked and to imply this has happened and that is what the groups wants is deliberate misinformation.The groups are about making changes to the implementation of the language laws to provide fairness and equality to all language groups in New Brunswick.
    I’m not sure what you are referring to when you state “Anglophones can and do have linguistic issues of their own.” This statement needs clarification. We do need to look at our education system to provide better education and language training. We also need to look at the constitution which guarantees our children the right to an education in their own language! This is presently being ignored in New Brunswick and needs to change.
    Perhaps there won’t be a referendum on bilingualism anytime soon, but patience and persistence will create change. Opening the constitution can be done and is certainly not out of the question.
    It’s interesting that the only verb used in your article is “discuss”. No mention of “listening” to finding common ground, or “working” together to find solutions, or “compromise”, or “creating” an equal atmosphere for all in New Brunswick.
    The only finger pointing is at our government, past and present, who have systematically bullied, ignored and marginalized those with concerns regarding language laws (the majority) to gain votes. When I refer to “the majority”, I am not referring to the English only!
    The groups are concerned with, and fighting for equality for all people that live and work in New Brunswick regardless of linguistic ability, not only unilinguals. Yes, we criticize unlawful duality and the unfair implementation of official bilingualism as well as the costs to all taxpayers. It’s our right through the Canadian Act of Free Speech.
    The groups question the cost of dual healthcare and the unequal distribution of funding in education versus the benefit to all in New Brunswick. Our province is heading closer toward bankruptcy every day. We are in a situation when ALL government spending of everyone’s tax dollars needs to be examined and cost information made available to all taxpayers. Nothing should be off the table while we are in this precarious situation. Also remember that dual healthcare is not provided by our constitution. It was granted due to threats of legal action by francophone associations. ie: law dept. U de M, SANB and other French stakeholders. It is not a constitutional right like education!
    The groups are asking the government to listen to all people who are concerned with the future of our province and its people, instead of marginalizing and bullying the majority. The answers to our fiscal situation should be from the people and government working together, not dictated to us by the government or an elite minority!
    If the costs of duality and bilingualism are not on the table for examination and discussion, how would we ever know how we could save money? When our government (past and present) refuse to examine the costs versus benefits, people tend to think there must be something being hidden or they see the non-disclosure may be because the government knows it would hurt their possibility of re-election. If Premier Gallant is really serious about turning this province around, political ambitions need to be put on the back burner. If the right actions are taken for the right reasons, re-election is probable! It would seem thought that Premier Gallant now knows he is only a one term government, so is now concentrating on building the French infrastructure at the expense of everyone else.
    Duality as instituted in New Brunswick is segregation. What do you call it? The segregation of language groups certainly does not help the majority (English and all other language groups) to obtain the high standard of French required for government testing and more and more in the private sector. It creates a clear division and instills an “us and them” attitude in our children. It does not and never will foster unity.
    It is not only unilinguals who are, as you say, “forced into exile”. It is the basic need to put food on your table and a roof over your head and to find meaningful work in your trained field regardless of your language. This situation has been created by overspending and spending on the unnecessary by our government, which is again why everything needs to be put on the table for review. This would include the costs for bilingualism and duality.
    Ending duality would be a start to ending segregation by language and would force us to find ways to work together to find a better and more accommodating New Brunswick for everyone. New Brunswick is a province for all of its people to take part in running, not just a minority elite.
    Official bilingualism does not favor Acadians only, but it does favor all French speakers, whether they are Acadian, Quebecois, or any other French nationality.
    When the government first classified positions based on language skills most positions were classed as bilingualism required, spoken French and English. Then it was changed to levels of spoken French based on the position designation. Now most bilingual positions are listed requiring spoken and written French and English. I have never seen the French or English language tests but some who have taken the tests say they are not equal tests, and the standard for the French proficiency is so high that most mother-tongue French would not pass it. Again, this is hearsay at this point, so take it for what it’s worth. Until government is willing to have the tests compared by an impartial party or parties we will never know.
    Most reasonable people would agree that skill set and experience should be the most important requirement for all jobs. If there is a coherent argument to the contrary, please state it. Language ability should be based on demographics as originally intended by the language laws, to create a better and fair job market for all in New Brunswick. Most times, hiring based on language first means the less experienced and less qualified are hired which means a less effective, lower quality civil service. (This is not stating that all being hired are of a lower standard, but the odds are increased) A number of people in the groups have stated their personal experiences regarding this situation and their stories will be presented to government in the future.
    At this point in time, there is a government “policy” regarding the right to work in the language of your choice, with the preferred requirement of supervisors, managers and those in the position of authority to be able to communicate in both official languages. The 2014 review of the language act revealed that the French community want this entrenched in the language laws, stating it is not good enough to have it as a government policy. They also made reference to having separate French and English work groups. How this would ever work is any ones guess. It would seem to be the first step toward two linguistically separate governments. I personally have never heard anyone state that English right to work in their own language should supersede the right of French to do the same. Your statement Mathieu, is outright misinformation.
    Many like yourself, Mathieu have stated that the English mix up bilingualism and duality. Please tell us what we have mixed up. We are very clear that bilingualism is not what the French elite want. They want to live work and play in French 100% of the time. This is an impossible dream in a predominantly English province and country. The only way it could be provided is to ban anything English in French households. No English internet, radio, television, books, cover their eyes when English road or business signs are present, covering their ears when English is being spoken near them. It is an impossibility! Duality is merely the avenue to try to create their wish at the expense of all. The only duality guaranteed by existing language laws is education.
    You are misinforming people when you state the groups are against bilingualism. Most do agree with bilingualism as was originally intended, but not with what it has morphed into. This is clearly stated on their sites and is repeated constantly throughout the comments and information.
    Lets put the costs of bilingualism and duality on the table for review instead of hiding it. All taxpayers have the right to know what they are paying for, how much it costs and how it benefits them. All language groups pay for it, so tell us. What does it cost? If it’s deemed the costs are acceptable, so be it, if not, let’s find ways to implement it more economically. We will never know until the information is put front and center.
    It has been stated by politicians that both health authorities are to provide bilingual services. If this is the case, the French at Vitality are speaking both languages, and Horizon both languages. On the other hand, some people say Vitalite is a French institution and Horizon an English institution. Which is it? It can’t be both bilingual and also separately French and English. When administration is run in only one language, it cannot be classed as bilingual because both language groups require administration in their own language. When it comes to funding, Vitalite is said to be a French institution with special French needs and desires, and Horizon is left having to provide services to everyone regardless of language.
    Of course administrative costs would reduce if we heavily centralized our services, as well as service and supply costs! If it will save us money, why not? Everyone would still be served in the language of their choice. In our present fiscal situation we have to look at all cost savings options. We no longer have the luxury of saying, cost does not matter, as the French elite in NB have been saying for years. To say so is pure ignorance, arrogance or both.
    How can we be sure merging our school systems (which would never happen), unless it’s studied by a nonpartisan committee without the influence of either language group or associations. We would not need more bilingual teachers. The English or bilingual teachers could teach in English, and bilingual or French teachers could teach French. One curriculum for all schools including the rural schools that do not presently offer French Immersion and proper English Immersion for the French schools. There are no different realities if bilingualism is really the desired goal. We both know bilingualism is really not the desired goal of the French elite.
    The groups do not blame all unemployment amongst English, nor the demographic decline solely on official bilingualism, but it is one of the factors based on the experiences of many people in New Brunswick.
    The language laws only apply to the public sector, but due to demands made by the vocal minority, the private sector is being forced to provide bilingual services as well. That is not to say we disagree with providing government services in the language of your choice. Your statement “39% of which are designated “bilingual””- has been made very often and is misleading to the reality of the civil service. The real question is; How many mother tongue French and how many mother-tongue English work for the government and civil service? This question has been asked of the previous two governments and they both stated the information is not collected therefore not available. Just because 39% of positions are designated bilingual does not mean these are they only positions filled with French persons. That statement is very misleading. Also, if only those 39% were filled with bilinguals, your statement above “More than 70% of Francophones are bilingual, against 16% of Anglophones” shows that there would probably be inequality in hiring between French bilinguals and English bilinguals. Keep in mind as well that those numbers are self-professed bilinguals, not government tested bilinguals. There is a huge difference.
    There is truth that certain areas have more linguistic requirements than others, but at present all areas are being painted with the same brush creating an unnecessary imbalance in hiring of French to the point of not having enough French speakers to fill the positions, so we are looking outside our province for French speakers to fill the positions while all other well trained, experienced linguistic groups are shut out of the jobs. The groups have many example of this.
    Until the costs of bilingualism and duality are disclosed publicly, we have no way of knowing if they are to blame for our current situation. Unemployment is a real problem in New Brunswick and there are a number of factors why this is, and all reasons need to be examined and reviewed. The groups are not blaming all unemployment on bilingualism, but there are many instances where the unilingual trained, experienced job candidate is overlooked solely based on language which is creating an unfair job market.
    Your statement that “we have never put in the effort needed to actually become bilingual” is true, because the French elite do not want bilingualism! This is clear to anyone who takes a good look at the language situation in New Brunswick.
    French Immersion has been in place since the 1970’s and most of our children have tried to learn the language, some even going on to taking French in university but are still classed as not French enough. Adults in the private workforce who wish to take language training have never been given the resources. Yes, there are for profit schools that have costs which are out of reach for most. True effort has been made by the English to become bilingual, but it seems the French Immersion system was never designed to create bilingual graduates. One has to wonder if it wasn’t done deliberately to create a power advantage. It would seem that way.
    The groups do not want to abolish the language laws! They do see the language laws as they are today are creating a disadvantage for the majority in the province and want this situation changed for their children, grandchildren and so on. We want to have a future in the province we love too.
    The French community has been one of the stakeholders in the English French Immersion system from the beginning. Many French of prominent positions have held positions on committees regarding curriculum of the French Immersion system. It seems they were not able to see the curriculum was not adequate.
    Why have our rural schools not been given the opportunity of French Immersion. This puts a lot of English children at a major disadvantage from the start through no fault of their own! The education system for all language groups in New Brunswick needs to be fixed as studies are showing both education systems are churning out illiterate graduates.
    When the constitution guarantees our children the right to an education in their own official language, why is the English system forced French Immersion? Why is the same not being done in the French education?
    Why does the government not provide more programs for the language, culture and identity of the many other language groups in New Brunswick. Part of the answer is that they do not expect or choose to promote their cultures and languages using taxpayer money. They do not feel entitled to it like the Acadians do. Perhaps it’s because they have done it for years on their own without the constant assistance of government and taxpayers money.
    The drive by government to increase Francophone immigration is not to counter assimiliation. That is a load of horse sh**!! Please tell everyone how bringing a french immigrant to New Brunswick is going to stop anyone from speaking whatever language they want to speak!! Lets be honest Mathieu. It’s all about increasing the number of French speakers for stats purposes in order to garner more funding and power. The groups want to have the immigration policies reviewed and addressed by government with transparency.
    There are some English Acadians in the groups, and some have stated that they are alienated from the francophone community because they do not speak French. Perhaps, it’s not a language issue, but an issue with how French Acadians view English unilinguals regardless of their heritage.
    The curriculum at the English schools has been reviewed a number of times by so called special committees which have included some of the French elites. There have been genuine efforts in reviewing the curriculum. To say there has not is misinformation again, Mathieu.
    Government needs to take action regarding linguistic interaction sooner rather than later. It is long overdue. Unfortunately, the last 40 years of segregating our children may have permanently created a situation where this is no longer possible.
    If a person is not comfortable speaking French and the French person can speak English why resort to a language only to be criticized for their poor language skills, which happens often. The French do the same when they are not comfortable with their English. It is a human reaction, not only an English reaction.
    It is true that when a person lives within a language and culture it is easier for most to learn the language. The French in New Brunswick have that luxury living in a predominately English province and country. I learned Spanish by living in Spain for a year. It’s much easier to learn a language when there is a desire to learn and you are living the language. It is not as easy to learn a language from a school setting only, which is what is expected of the English children in New Brunswick.
    There have been intellectuals and advocates of bilingualism trying to make it a reality for over 40 years now and nothing is changing accept our children are being given a lower quality education, and being shut out of jobs in New Brunswick. Let’s not forget those of working age, not in the government or civil service that have not and are not being offered language training by the very government that has created the language laws and sets the language requirements. You and I both know that bilingualism is not what the French want and not what the language laws are about. It’s past time to get real and talk about what the French elite really want for New Brunswick.
    Since the inception of language laws in Canada and New Brunswick, there has never been an instance of revocation of any language rights. To imply this, is to misinform.
    How do you propose reaching out to each other? The public meeting you held in Moncton? What did that accomplish? Seems it was merely an exercise to try to appease. Just more smoke and mirrors! The statement of “reaching out to each other” has been made by the French elites many, many times but there has never been action taken to create an environment where this could be accomplished to create change. It is a platitude used only when people start questioning the cost, unfairness and implementation of language laws.

  2. This is exactly why I left NB. So sick of this self righteous BS. One of my last employers in Moncton, Jump + (Apple store) chose to hire a new employee who had never even used an Apple product in his life to be the Personal Trainer for Apple products. HOW? Did he do that when I was already employed by Jump + for almost a year and had been working with Apple and selling Apple for over 3 years?……… well, he spoke french. Thats it. He had no qualifications at all, never owned an Apple product and I would actually hear him telling clients false information. « Uh, I think it does on its own » Anyways this particular individual was also a notorious drug dealer as well as the newly hired manager that supported him is also notorious for selling drugs and does NOT speak french! Anyway one day the Jump + Personal Trainer propositioned the only female who we worked with for oral sex if she was needing extra cash. (she also did not speak french and left NB because of this to BC) I was the only one who stood up for her and his pal, the new manager/other drug dealer, fired me for sticking up for her rights as a woman. Needless to say I resent NB and Jump + for this reason. My case may be extreme but how many people get screwed over from a job that a less qualified french speaking person takes away in NB!? I mean I apply somewhere and could say I spoke a little french, un peux , (correct!? haha) and get denied because I wasn’t fluent. However a french speaking individual who speaks little english would snag this position simply because. It’s not a hidden fact the NB favours acadians. Equality among all men and women, regardless of language or nationality, on earth should be humanities number one priority. Anglophones are not better than Francophones and Francophones are not better than Anglophones. Simple. Deal with it NB and take your head out of your ass.

  3. I grew up in an English home. My mother was a teacher. She wanted her children to learn French so we were sent to French Schools. My sister graduated top of her class, valedictorian and a Governor Generals award for high academic achievement.
    We had friends in our neighbourhood who were from both English and French backgrounds We went to the English Catholic Church and they went to the French one across the street.
    There was one glaring difference between us. The French kids lived a few blocks away and seemed poor and were as compared to my street. Early on I felt this injustice and questioned why so?
    The pendulum of equity was in the English court and needed to swing the other way. I believe over time however that now the pendulum is and has been for sometime been swinging in the French court. It’s time it reached centre.
    Having worked in government for many years I have personally observed the unequal hiring practices, the lack of training to upgrade your French language skills (if you don’t use it you lose it).
    Where I grew up I heard both languages all the time. When I moved to an almost totally English community even my total immersion in French has slowly deteriorated. I enrolled all my children in French Immersion and my daughter who is now a mechanical eng was dyslexic and had no resources in Fr so they sent her to Eng school. She now lives out west as the positions available in Eng in this province did not come close to helping her pay off her debt and still live. So I’m not saying it’s all language. However my son who graduated in grade12 Fr and earned 2 degrees waited 4 yrs to get on permanent at the same time someone from let’s say Acadian Pennisula got hired right away, trained then left for a more French region because she struggled with English. The positions remain vacant leaving the load to everyone else while they attempt to recruit another.
    Peoples lives are being affected. Even the Acadiens from the South are having problems passing the French language testing. A little more to the centre would go a long way.

    • Cette position à toujours été celle que j’ai partagée sur la question du bilinguisme au N-B. Merci d’oser continuer de propager cet idéalisme. Chacune des cultures doivent s’entraider à survivre ensemble. La seule et unique solution!

  4. This is the first time I have heard of this magazine, good articles. Here are my 2 cents.

    First, I’ll likely go off on a tangent so my apologies. I am English, but I was in French immersion for 12 years and 2 at University. My spoken French is terrible, I have a decent accent but my vocabulary and grammar is not the best. However, I can carry on a conversation no problem with my French colleagues, they in French and I reply in English, this is how things should be (in my personal opinion). Yes, our jokes get lost in translation but it works.

    Second, to the Anglophone who complained that the comment area is in French, weak comment. This is a French magazine, CBC new’s comment section is in English, do you believe it should be in French?

    I do not believe in duality at all, I believe it is a waste of money and divisive in nature. I believe in bilingualism. The only way we can achieve bilingualism is by teaching our children together in French and English, sharing histories and cultures. Yes I sound like a hippy (which I’m not) but seriously this needs to happen.

    Not in the way it was done in the 60’s which was a legitimate attempt at assimilation of the French. I really believe this can heal the divisive in this province and cut a lot of costs.

    Duality only benefits bureaucrates, French and English. Just look at the 2 health authorities. We pay bloated salaries to people in the same position, the only difference is they speak different languages.

    Moncton, NB has 2 hospitals one French and the other English. We could demolish both and have one super hospital, which would better serve patients (English and French) and be more cost efficient etc…

    I have used both hospitals and I’m always served in my language of choice. What is the difference if we had one hospital?

    This province is hurting and the status quo is not working something needs to be done.

    • With all due respect : What are your qualifications in regards to bilingual education and sociolinguistics?
      « I do not believe in duality at all, I believe it is a waste of money and divisive in nature. I believe in bilingualism. The only way we can achieve bilingualism is by teaching our children together in French and English, sharing histories and cultures. »
      People need to do some basic research on bilingualism and duality if we want the debate to go anywhere. There is a fundamental difference between INDIVIDUAL bilingualism (one person speaking two languages) and INSTITUTIONAL bilingualism (a State offerring its services in both languages). The goal of institutional bilingualism is NOT to make every individual bilingual. In fact it’s almost the opposite : it allows both linguistic groups to get State services without having to speak or learn the other language.
      You may not be aware of it, but the solution you’re proposing is basically « let’s just assimilate the French ». Again, I suggest you read up on bilingual schools (in Nova-Scotia for example). It’s a wonderful solution at first thought, but in practice, bilingual schools = majority language schools.
      If 75 % of French kids can speak English, and 15% of English kids can speak French… what do you think is going to happen? What language are all the kids going to converse in outside of classes taught in French?
      The Francophone kids often already struggle to read and write French once they graduate. How is being exposed to less French going to help them? What would happen is this : the French kids would all become bilingual but the English kids wouldn’t be any closer to being fluent in French. And 50 years later there would be about the same % of Francophones in NB as there are now in Nova-Scotia or Louisiana.
      Sure, English kids need to be exposed to more French as well if they want to be become fluent in that language. That’s why there’s the immersion program. As we can see from the stats, the immersion program we have in NB is lackluster. It’s a different issue which does need to be addressed, and the sooner the better in my opinion.
      « Moncton, NB has 2 hospitals one French and the other English. We could demolish both and have one super hospital, which would better serve patients (English and French) and be more cost efficient etc…
      I have used both hospitals and I’m always served in my language of choice. What is the difference if we had one hospital? »
      So your solution to save money is to demolish 2 hospitals and build a new, bigger one? Do you have any idea how expensive that would be?
      Also, both Health Networks and all their hospitals are already required by law to offer bilingual services. One has French as a working language and the other, English. The difference if we had only one network is that the French staff would have to work in English.

      • Really? And what are your qualifications?

        Absolute rubbish every word of it. You are not interested in a solution whatsoever. You are nothing but a fear mongerer.

        The big bad English are going to assimilate. This generation is not the generation of the 50’s and 60’s that marginalized the French and attempted assimilation.

        In regards to your Hospital comment, I’m a structural and mechanical engineer and quantity surveyor with over 20 years experience in construction management.

        In addition I have worked on both hospitals in question. A larger and new hospital built to LEED standards would operate at almost less than 50% of the present operational and maintenance expenses of both hospitals. The repayment period for the initial investment would be 15 or less years based on those savings.

        So with regards to my qualifications on building a hospital I believe they are pretty damn good.

        • Are you being serious? Can you try debating logically as opposed to emotionally?
          I’m not saying it’s the English kids’ fault that there’s assimilation of the French population, come on. It’s simply a matter of one linguistic group being the majority and the other being the minority. If you can’t wrap your head around that there’s not much else to say. Unless you can direct me to a study that shows bilingual schools in a majority-minority context do lead to bilingualism of both linguistic groups as opposed to assimilation of the minority?
          And sorry but I don’t give half a shit about your experience in building hospitals, but rather I was doubting your qualifications to say « The only way we can achieve bilingualism is by teaching our children together in French and English, sharing histories and cultures ».

          • Very serious. Everything you stated in your initial reply was confrontational, and you have the audacity to tell me to try and debate logically vs. emotionally?

            All of your rebuttals were your guesses based purely on your narrow way of thinking. It seems like you are not interested in coming up with a solution, rather staying with the status quo, which has clearly failed.

            The divisiveness in the province is at a boiling point which is compounded by our economic state, things need to change.

  5. Unbiased opinion….I am a Newfoundlander but I lived in New Brunswick for 11 years. I am anglophone with the ability to converse and write intermediate French.
    One of the benefits for my husband and I, who are both medical specialists ,to leave Fredericton was the education system.

    In my opinion, the system heavily favours francophone students. They had access to their own brand new schools with every amenity including a day care facility. We watched as these children were picked up right at their door by their own school bus, while we had to drive our children to school because we lived 2 km away? Who lets their 5 year old walk 2 km to school? Unless you had one francophone parent, you were not permitted to enroll in the school. Yet francophone children are allowed to register at any school they want.

    The option was French immersion, which yielded very few bilingual students at the end of the program.

    There are definitely two tiers of school systems in Fredericton at least. We have that in St. John’s too, but we are paying large fees to send our children to private school, that offers similar benefits to the French school in Fredericton.

  6. My issue is not with bilingualism, it’s with the bias that a francaphone who isn’t bilingual gets a job over a anglophone who isn’t bilingual. Now I’m not talking doesn’t speak a word of the opposing language, but isn’t considered « bilingual ». I was in French immersion until grade 11 and I let my french fall by the way side. That’s my fault. However I can still and often do communicate in French and achieve whatever the conversation goal maybe, it just takes me longer to communicate then of id kept practicing my French. The issue I have is its okay for a francaphone who speaks English as well as I do French to say « Let me get someone who speaks better English for you. », but it’s not okay for me to say the same.
    I think the distrust lies in the fact that places aren’t looking for « bilingualism » in its truest form. They are looking for people who are fluent in French. If you can speak a little English or if you English needs practice employers are willing to work with you. The same is not done for the English speaking community.

  7. I believe the problem is not bilingualism, or duality. I believe the problem lies with the education that has been offered to both the English and French speaking persons of this province. I can tell you that 15 years ago, not every student was offered the choice to study both languages. This is issue arose in rural New Brunswick where there were not enough immersion teachers for the student body that wanted to learn a different language. Many students were also asked to leave the program if they were struggling. We need education that is available to all students of this province. I would also like to see more programs were adults can go and learn English or French. I’m sure there are many who would love to learn. I know I did and I went to school after graduation to learn French.

  8. Unilingualism is absolutely a right – and it is as much of a right for anglophones as it is for francophones.

    Mr. Wade has mistaken the group of Anglophones and the intent of the Facebook group that was set up.

    You might be surprised to find out that the group supports official bilingualism. They do NOT support the dual systems that have been set up to support it.

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Wade did not take the time to do his research before writing his article. Unfortunately, he has become part of the problem. Which is, many well-intentioned people, with not enough information, having influence over the emotions of thousands.

    As a former resident of Montreal, Mr. Wade should be well versed with the frustrations of Anglophones in a francophone province. Mr. Wade needs to understand that the same frustrations exist in New Brunswick.

    Since I left northern NB 25 years ago, the population has gone from 35% francophone to 65% francophone. Most jobs are now held by francophones, and many government jobs are either bilingual imperative, even those that were not historically. As well, the health authority used to have a hiring policy of « french or bilingual ». Many successful applicants for jobs came from Quebec, causing tensions to further increase. Quebec teachers in NB classrooms – and many of them. The situation is that there are tensions not only between french and english residents, but between francophone NBers and those who have come from Quebec.

    In northern NB, we used to have a high school which was built to serve both the French and English community. It worked really well for several years. Classes were run in both languages (i.e. French Math class and English Math class) but the administration was bilingual. Students got along quite well and there were no language tensions.

    Then a few teachers from Quebec were hired to teach at the school, and along with a few parents who had concerns of assimilation, they procured a brand new high school, right next door, for French students only. No English was allowed to be spoken on school property (and still isn’t). Meanwhile, at the English school, students are encouraged to speak French in efforts to become bilingual.

    Today, due to population decline, there is a half empty English high school sitting next to a half empty French high school. And there are 2 separate administrations running the show. And 2 separate busing systems.

    Folks, we have a segregated system. It isn’t bilingual. It is even more than dual. It is exactly what the civil rights movement in the 60s had worked to correct.

    This is what the Facebook group is working to correct.

    Now, would you like to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

    • Désolée Cecile Smith, but you are the one who is misinformed. By your comments, I am not even sure that you have carefully read Mr. Wade’s article. And by the way, I grew up in Northern NB, and I do not know what you mean when you say « In northern NB, we used to have a high school which was built to serve both the French and English community. It worked really well for several years. » All the bilingual schools in NB contributed to thousands of Acadians being assimilated. Any former census from Statistics Canada will confirm that. The only ones who weren’t assimilated were probably the ones who attended schools run by francophone nuns and priests. You are the one who is obviously not informed on past history and judicial precedents on linguistic matters. The case of Nova Scotia and the disastrous effects of its bilingual schools alone prove that whenever we have « bilingual » institutions, english always takes over. http://www.slmc.uottawa.ca/?q=sector-based_policy_ns. To me, like I said, a lot of that comes from some anglophones’ feeling of « superiority », of « entitlement », from the fact that they speak the language of the majority. They don’t feel they should have to « bend » to the rights of the minority. Well guess what ? The world owes you nothing, as it owes me nothing. If you don’t have the qualifications for a job, then you shouldn’t get it. If you can’t communicate with 40 % of the population, then it makes no sense to hire you. It’s only courtesy and good business sense. Would you like a doctor or a nurse who only knows 40% of his or her job ? Same logic.

    • And one last thing : PLEASE stop using the word segregation. It is an insult to our black neighbours who have long fought against racism and segretation in the United States (and in Canada). We have separate entities in health and in Education to protect the francophone minority, not to discriminate against the anglophone minority. You are not discriminated against by having a francophone hospital network in your province. To compare your situation to those who have fought for civil rights in the US is a real insult. I guess you will never understand the concepts of positive discrimination or that « justice doesn’t necessarily imply equality ». Education, education, education is what we desperately need in NB…

      • Nothing makes me cringe more than reading entitled anglo NBers describing their situation with words like « segregation », « apartheid », « nazi language laws », etc. Completely DELUSIONAL.
        Not to mention that according to the UN Forum on Minority Issues, « The creation and development of classes and schools providing education in minority languages should not be considered impermissible segregation, if the assignment to such classes and schools is of a voluntary nature ».

        People should open a book once in a while.

        • but yeah I agree 100% with you Mme Chose. Our education in NB is among the worst in the country, and this whole non-debate is evidence.
          We should be fighting for better education, and for an immersion program that allows students to become functionally bilingual. But instead we’d rather try to go back to oppressing the French minority to save money.

      • Merci Madame Chose! MaaAarci! I also am very tired of people throwing in the word « segregation » to qualify linguistic duality… Making duality/bilinguism and minority rights as the scapegoat of the province’s financial ills is a very dangerous and slippery slope.

  9. What bothers me about this whole article is the fact that it is obvious that the author is biased. He sides with the Acadiens when he states that they use duality to segregate themselves and states that « it is understandable. » Not it is not. English and French in this bilingual province should not be trying to segregate themselves. The author of the article has obviously not read the reasons for the facebook page. In a province with approximately 30% French, the majority of government jobs require bilingualism. This definitely shows a leaning towards the Francophones of the province.

    In world where English has taken over as the predominate language of international business and travel, it seems that New Brunswick is being held back; not by bilingualism, but by the way that bilingualism is handled in our province. There has to be a better way.

    • « the majority of government jobs require bilingualism »
      No, 40% of government jobs are designated bilingual. You’re one quick Google search away from seeing you’re completely wrong in that regard.

      • Read the comments in the French version of this article – the french commenters agree with the intent of the facebook group. One of the commenters is even saying that this « divide and conquer » mentality around bilingualism is not helping us as a whole.

  10. Je vais écrire ce commentaire en anglais pour que tout le monde comprenne…I have one question for all to think about : How many people do you know in NB (or anywhere in Canada) who have been assimilated FROM ENGLISH TO FRENCH ? Anyone ? I know NONE and have never heard of any. So what does that tell us ? Why are some anglophones so afraid to learn french and MAKE AN EFFORT ? Why are they so afraid to let francophones exercice their rights ? What is it ? Is it a sense of entitlement ? Is it « white anglophone » privilege ? « Speak white » ? The inability to put one in others’ shoes ? Why is the majority unable to let other languages thrive ? And I am not only speaking about French. Mik’maq and Maliseet should also be taught everywhere in NB. What is stopping you from consuming french products ? Listening to french radio, reading french books, seeing french shows ? Won’t cost you a thing most of the time. Could it be that you have no interest in Acadian /francophone culture ? That the only benefit you see in learning french is « getting government jobs » ? Dialogue has to work both ways…I guess we Acadians are also partly to blame for that because we too often act as a colonized people. There can be 12 bilingual francophones and 1 uniligual anglophone in a room and we will speak english right away…Why is that ? If we don’t keep our head high and respect ourselves, how can we expect anglophones to do so ? Pride starts with ourselves. For too long, we have been ashamed of who we are. I say no more. And I do not want to take rights away from anyone, especially First Nations people. I just want to be able to exercice mine. And live in peace.

  11. I love how the comment box on here is only in French lol. That speaks volumes!
    To the person above……our children did take 12 years of French Immersion and STILL are being told by our government officials (in Quebec) that their not FRENCH enough to be considered bilingual for a government job..Please also note that the english from NB have to be tested by someone in Quebec for a job in NB…..however, the French worker in NB who can barely speak English (dis, dat, etc is not English) but THEY are considered bilingual as they are being tested by a New Brunswicker (and actually few are even tested on their English skills)……….makes sense, doesn’t it?
    So, please DO NOT try to make it look like anglophones have not tried to be bilingual.

    • First, the comment box on here is only in French because Astheure is an Acadian online magazine – not a government sponsored website. Do you mean to tell me that all Anglophone online magazine have a bilingual comment box…

      Secondly, I don’t like giving credence to anectodes by sharing others anectodes, but since you found your opinion on « half-truths » I’ll give one of my own. Many — too many — Acadians and international students graduating from the Université de Moncton don’t have a lot of English communication skills (some are actually very poor at it) and in my experience none of those that I know of have been able to get a job either for the federal or provincial government. Most of them have a harder time than any English speaking NB resident would to find a job in the private where bilinguism is often an aftertought. To find a job in the private sector in New Brunswick when not able to speak, write or read in English (with the exeception of a minority of areas like the Péninsule Acadienne and other francophone communities) is quite the challenge. So I don’t believe for a minute that someone able to speak minimal to poor English would be given a positive evaluation on bilinguism by any order of government.

    • It’s funny how you guys manage to crawl your way to everything regarding bilingualism that’s posted online yet know so little about the subject and rely so much on misinformation.
      « I love how the comment box on here is only in French lol. That speaks volumes! »
      – Whether you like it or not, not everything in the world is designed for English speakers. This happens to be a French language website, so I don’t see what’s surprising about the comment box being in French. Fact is the article was translated into English and the comments here are all in English, and THAT speaks volumes.
      « our children did take 12 years of French Immersion and STILL are being told by our government officials (in Quebec) that their not FRENCH enough to be considered bilingual for a government job »
      – Why don’t you blame the education then?
      « Please also note that the english from NB have to be tested by someone in Quebec for a job in NB »
      Source? I know for a fact Francophones have to pass an English proficiency test as well.
      « the French worker in NB who can barely speak English (dis, dat, etc is not English) »
      – So you don’t consider someone bilingual unless they have a native speaker accent? Only someone who has never bothered to even try learning a second language would say something like that.

    • Susie-q…you are so right! I took many many courses at the University level and did very well but I will never be considered « bilingual » enough for a job in NB, It sickens me that the testing isn’t as strigent for French as it is for English. No matter what all of you think it is very biased.

  12. Le seul problème que j’ai avec cet article, c’est qu’on regroupe tous les francophones comme des acadiens quand la majorité des francophones de la province sont descendus des ancêtres métis de la cote gaspésienne. Nous sommes Nouveau Brunswiquois en premier, qui parlent français.

  13. I thought this was an exceptionally well written piece and I agree that semantics are an issue as is education. I studied some French in Junior High and HIgh School growing up in Sask and also did a 6 week French immersion class. Unfortunately, it was easy to lose in the west, as there are not many opportunities for conversation. I was excited to move to NB 5 years ago, thinking that living in a bilingual province, it would be easy to ‘get my French back’. I live in Southern NB and there are NO French classes available. NO training. I find thid bizarre. I do not understand why people are reluctant to learn a language other than their mother tongue. I guess I have different attitudes about education, and the value of learning as much as a person can. I also do not understand why this continues to be such an ‘us vs. them’ issue. Such fear. So sad.

    • This is exactly my problem Donna! I was FFL up to uni where I continued to take French courses, got several jobs in Ontario because I was bilingual, got my jobs in NB because I was bilingual, but I use it so infrequently I’m losing it. No French classes or help to retain it unless I want to drive 2 hours and pay myself, instead of the people who should be supportive of this, but don’t offer anything. I even asked to volunteer in French at another location and was told no. So how important then, is it really? I have to take all sorts of other training, but the most important one? Nope. Makes me wonder. I do hate to see so many people leaving NB because they can’t get a decent paying job because they don’t speak French. I would be asking: how much time in a shift would I be speaking French? If it’s anything less than every shift every day you probably don’t need to make it a bilingual position. The longer I live here, the more I am becoming sympathetic to Anglophones, especially those who just want to stay in the place they were born and raise their families and have a job that supports them. I used to be sympathetic to the Francophones, but the longer I’m here, the less sympathy I have. When a drunk driver is let off because the officer didn’t ask if he wanted to speak in English or French, and the driver himself initially addressed the officer in English, it makes my blood boil that language is more important than having a drunken murderer behind the wheel taken off the road. I wonder what the Judge who made that decision would think if the next person this guy killed was someone she loved. Would she still think language is more important or would she argue life trumps language and fight it? I am very disappointed in NB.

  14. In areas such as Campbellton, perhaps Moncton, and other highly bilingual cities, why is it beneficial to keep the French minors, separated from English minors? Why should we keep these populations in separate buildings. Why raise our children segregated from each other at a young age? If French parents want to give there children a French education, and instill French culture in their children, why do they have to do it in a separate school, why can’t our children mix when pursuing academic study?

    Would it not be progressive, to allow our children to mix, even if they are being taught by a different set a teachers? Imagine a school where there is an english classroom, a bilingual classroom, and a French classroom. The parents who want their children taught a traditional French education have that option, parents who want bilingual children, have that option, and of course the english have their choice as well. The kids this way still get to mix with each other by sharing the same building..the same way they someday will share a province.

    • Sorry Ryan but that doesn’t work in a province where the majority is English speaking having Francophone students attend a bilingual school would just result in the French children learning to speak better English. It is already a struggle to keep French kids from speaking English off the playground in French schools and off the bus because in communities like Fredericton English all around. What would work is very early immersion, I currently teach French at my private preschool and over the last 10 years I have managed to make many children who come from a two parent English Family bilingual so they were able to attend French school and the children who went on to English school had such a strong Foundation in French that by the time the hit early immersion in grade 3 they strive. This article is right and so are many people who are on the Facebook group who think it is unfair, you are at a disadvantage but what you need to focus on is fighting for better immersion programs and earlier immersion. Cause even if we merge the only thing that will result from that is French kids will have better English skills and English kids will once again be left behind.

      • Tina, I can’t believe that you are saying it’s a stuggle to keep French children from speaking English. Are you promoting segregration?

        • It has nothing to do with segregation. The issue is that if french kids speak english all of the time, they are not longer going to be french kids, they will slowly turn into english speaking majority. Then they have kids and rather than speaking majority french, they speak english all of the time, the kids are even more english. Until french language and culture is all but phased out. THIS is what the french community is afraid of. This is why they want separate school and want them to only speak french when they are at school. The problem is that they are surround by english media. These kids get bombarded with music, movies, video games etc that are english, they have english friends that they have to speak english to. They date english people, marry english people, have kids with english people This has nothing to do with being anti-english. It is about trying keep french language and heritage alive. I don’t believe that this duality way of doing things is helping that mind you. I don’t think french first signs are helping that. etc. But it is a valid concern for the french community. If they don’t don’t something, the culture risks being erased. I have yet to come up with a solution.. but what we are doing now.. is not it.

    • Did you read the article?
      « … but merging our school systems would do little to fix this and would create new problems. Bilingual schools throughout the province would have completely different realities. Schools in Woodstock, Moncton and Caraquet would not have the same bilingual composition at all. The problem isn’t who’s in our schools; it’s what we teach and how it’s being taught. Moreover, if we merged our school systems, we would need bilingual teachers and administrators. We would need bilingual curriculum. Unilinguals would be disadvantaged even more… Be careful what you wish for! »

      Stop trying to play the « why segregate our children ;( » card… the point of duality in education is not to keep them separated (and all kids DO merge together when they play hockey, soccer, dance, and every out of school activity). Studies have shown for decades that bilingual education is not viable in a minority/majority context. The majority language will dominate just about every aspect of school life, and considering francophone kids often consume more English media than French, and the fact that most English kids DON’T speak French, assimilation would be through the roof within a generation. The French kids will all be fluent in English, sure, but the English kids will have even less of a reason to learn French.
      Also, think of the massive costs of what you’re suggesting here :
      « Imagine a school where there is an english classroom, a bilingual classroom, and a French classroom. The parents who want their children taught a traditional French education have that option, parents who want bilingual children, have that option, and of course the english have their choice as well. »
      Not only would the infrastructure costs be massive (we’ll need bigger schools), but also the costs of rearranging the whole system…. for the sole purpose of having them all in the same building?

  15. As a civil servant in the capital city I have often struggled with language barriers in serving the ‘public’ which essentially is defined as ‘anyone’ when it comes to service delivery and/or communication between and within departments.

    Recently my department mandated online training to familiarize with the « Official Languages Act ». Without doubt if the act was enacted in its entirety the financial and logistical impact would sink GNB like the titanic. For instance, I conduct or am involved with several meetings weekly, if one of the attendees requests the meeting be presented in french the options are to schedule for a translator and reschedule the meeting, or alternatively conduct a second meeting in French etc.. The same for printed materials which can take 3 weeks for translation. Apply the above process for my 10+ weekly meetings and one can see the impact on productivity and dollars and ‘sense’. I have no issues with the intent and purpose of the act, it strives to best serve both francophones and anglophones of the province. The saving grace is that although there is policy it is rarely called upon with respect to day to day operations. Central agencies are required to send everything out in both official languages.

    I have served those within my department (not public facing in the true sense) who have requested french communique. I promptly oblige and search out others better equipped to serve the individual in their mother tongue. For the most part.. it works.. efficient? Maybe not so much but the job gets done.

    Personally I am sub-40 and was in late french immersion, graduated high school with such credentials and considered myself ‘competent’ in terms of my french languages skills. I certainly was not bilingual. In recent GNB french proficiency testing this fact was reconfirmed. There have been plenty of studies and I don’t believe there will be any debate concerning the inadequacy of our french immersion programs. Despite this fact, my 4 kids (2 since graduated) will all be ‘functionally’ yet not certified bilingual. I know it, the older 2 know it, and they prepare to leave the province as their university-gained knowledge and competencies open up more doors in other provinces where competition isn’t further complicated by government departmental linguistic profiles and composition.

    In all likelihood I have digressed from the core discussion. I know a few of those signing petitions, and knowing their situation the fear is real. Their seniority in their position, and their livelihood has been threatened exclusively due to their french language proficiency or lack thereof.

  16. This is a very well articulated piece. I’m an anglophone that is bitter at the situation and not to my francophone counterparts.
    I’ve taken early immersion in school and had to leave it as I couldn’t get help at home with studies. I then tried again with late immersion but memorizing verb tenses did nothing to help me understand how to use them. I went back into English for high school so as not to struggle through rest of courses. I went out west for university and came back 5 years ago. I didn’t get to practice much out west. Since being back, I have taken 3 courses with the Alliance Francophone and 1 with the Memramcook Institute. I can still only dialogue with children. I am a working professional with friends who speak both languages.
    I do have a hard time with the duality and sympathize with all my anglophone friends who are unemployed. I’m frightened to lose the job I have as I believe I would struggle to find retail jobs even without my french. I agree with how poorly worded the arguments are, but do see the struggle. I will admit though that I’ve only not signed certain petitions for fear of being judged by my peers as a lazy and angry anglophone. If I didn’t own a home and have family here, I would go back out west as there is stigma towards unilingual anglophones in an already economically devastated province. I appreciate how this was written, I hope there are next steps to take.

    • @Thankyou. Don’t give up. Il faut pratiquer. Vous devriez essayer d’écouter des livres audio, la télévision et la radio en français. Et lire en français. Une langue est comme un muscle; il faut s’en servir souvent pour la renforcer ! 🙂 To the others : One part of the population that we never seem to think about are unilingual francophones. You know, they do exist, and they are not able to find work either ANYWHERE in NB except maybe in the Acadian Peninsula, as you would probably be able to find work in St. John or St. Stephen’s as a unilingual anglophone. They are also often forced to move to Québec to find work. Why do we not care about their woes ? Why does it seem to be a « given » that francophones must learn english and not the other way around ? The only answer I can come up with is privilege about speaking the dominant language. Yet in the eyes of the law, we are all supposed to be equal.

  17. Let the comment section shit storm resume!
    That’s an especially well-written piece, but unfortunately I don’t think anything, no matter how articulated, will convince these people to let go of their bitterness towards the French language and/or community. Doesn’t help that by now most of the elderly folks that constitute these anti-duality/bilingualism groups have figured out Facebook, and we all know how strong the Internet echo-chamber is at reinforcing false beliefs. I can’t help but facepalm at half the comments on these groups.. I find Woodside’s comment offensive, not because I think he’s anti-French or anything of the sort, but rather because it is shocking that a man in his position does not understand or recognize the need for separate educational institutions. Also, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought we didn’t have duality in health care? Both networks are required by law to offer their services in both languages as far as I know. To put duality in education in the same basket as « duality » in health services is a mistake I’d expect from a backwoods anti-bilingualism Facebook group, not from the mayor of NB’s capital city.
    It’s very disapointing that we have to go back to this same debate every couple of years instead of focusing on the real issues that make this place a have-not province, namely education and media monopoly.

    • Well Mr. Here we go again…I’m one of your backwoods member of the facebook group and if you had any idea what so ever you would know that the costs associated with supporting bilingualsm and duality affects all of us in NB, not just the English. You should check your facts before you try to belittle citizens of NB. Your arrogance is the typical response that we English endure from some of the French speaking minority on a regual basis. Mr. Woodside had the courage to speak up against duality as it is costing all of us in NB, not just the English. Open your eyes and do some research on this…you might learn a few things you seem to be unaware of. We are not going to go away this time so be prepared next time before you decide to make uneducated statements.

      • Excuse my skepticism, but I find it extremely hard to believe that you people are just soooooo concerned with this province’s financial situation to the point of spending literally years whining about it on Facebook and online articles.
        There has to be an underlying motive.
        To me it’s exactly like the stoners who advocate legal marijuana by going on and on and on about the medicinal benefits instead of being honest that they just want to get high without the hassle. Admit it : you don’t want to deal with the French community or language. Your conception of equality in NB is like it was back in the 50s.
        What do you include in duality and where do you think we should cut exactly? Schools and health care? Did you know we had EIGHT health networks pre-2008?
        This whole debate on duality is going nowhere. There is no way in hell duality in education will be abolished (you know, with the Charter and all that pesky stuff), and technically we don’t have duality in healthcare as I understand. Both health networks are required to offer services in French and English, but their working languages are different.
        Also, if by « do some research » you mean « look at Sun News’ chart on the costs of bilingualism » I’d advise you to read this: http://www.academicmatters.ca/2014/03/academic-research-vs-political-propaganda-lessons-from-the-fraser-institutes-study-of-minority-language-education/.

        • The Fraser Institute study also suffers from a fatal methodological flaw: it does not include any control variables. Without such controls, we cannot conclude that the cost differences observed are actually caused by language, rather than some other factor. (Campus Saint-Jean offers full-service education and Athabasca University distance education. This, not language, explains that cost differential.) In short, we still do not know whether minority-language services are costing money or saving money.

          Maybe it’s duality of services!

  18. Pingback: Bilinguisme et dualité : le temps est venu de se parler – Mathieu Wade – | Astheure·

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