Official Languages in the Defence Team: celebrating 50 years

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With the upcoming commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act  , the Director Official Languages is providing updated information on official languages in the Defence Team and highlighting the relevance of respect for linguistic duality in our day-to-day work.

While the Director Official Languages is the organization responsible for official languages within the Defence Team, working with Coordinators of Official Languages, the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian) and the Commander Military Personnel Command are responsible for developing and overseeing the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces Official Languages Program. The championing of the Program lies with the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology) for civilians and Commander Military Personnel Command for Canadian Armed Forces members.

The current Official Languages Action Plan for the DND/CAF provides guidance to all L1s on how to continue to advance the Defence Team’s Official Languages Program, so that it remains effective and efficient, is aligned with Treasury Board policy, and regularly promotes an organizational culture reflective of the values enshrined in the Official Languages Act.

Official Languages Act: Celebrating 50 years

The Official Languages Act describes how federal institutions shall treat both official languages and establishes official languages rights and obligations applicable to Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members. The Act recognizes English and French as the languages of work in federal institutions and a commitment to official languages minority communities.

This year marks an important milestone for the Official Languages Act – its 50th anniversary. National Defence is celebrating this anniversary with an internal promotional campaign, which includes a special ceremony on Linguistic Duality Day, 12 September 2019, in Ottawa, with a web-based live broadcast as well as an informative panel discussion on the culture of bilingualism. Details on these commemorative initiatives can be found on the Official Languages Act 50th anniversary commemoration page.

Instilling a culture of bilingualism in the Defence Team

Respecting diversity and the dignity of all persons is central to Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. Given that objective, as well as the activities outlined in the Official Language Action Plan for the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces, the Director Official Languages is developing an “Official Languages Culture Change Plan” to instill the need for both official languages in the workplace, starting in the National Capital Region. By doing so, the goal is to instill a culture that fully values both official languages and equitably respects all Defence Team members.

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