Fifty years of linguistic duality in the Defence Team

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This year marks an important milestone for the Official Languages Act – its 50th anniversary. Passed in 1969, 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.

The DAOD 5039 series on official languages in the Defence Team, in part, outlines policy requirements for both Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members related to fulfilling official languages obligations in accordance with Treasury Board and Canadian Heritage regulations, policies, and directives.

Working in a bilingual region

All organizations and units located in regions (see map) prescribed as bilingual for language-of-work purposes (or “bilingual regions”) are designated Bilingual Organizations or Units.

Everything you need to know about working in a Bilingual Organization or Unit, from communications to supervision, can be found in the Bilingual Organizations and Units: What you need to know brochure.

Map of Francophone regions of Canada

Many official language resources and tools at your disposal

Visit the Director Official Languages intranet site to access internal and external official languages resources and tools. Information can be found under the “OL Awareness Tools” drop-down menu on the home page.

Your Coordinator of Official Languages: right advice from the right person

The role of the Coordinator of Official Languages is a varied one. Working in collaboration with the Director Official Languages, they promote official language policies, best practices, obligations, and linguistic rights. Coordinators of Official Languages also evaluate and report on official languages performance and provide expert advice to commanders, managers, and Defence Team members in determining the linguistic requirements of positions, taking part in the official language complaints resolution process, monitoring official language performance, conducting audits for the L1s they support, and reporting results to the Director Official Languages.

Defence Team members with questions concerning their linguistic rights, second official language training, official language complaints or any other official language-related topics can reach out to and rely on their Coordinator of Official Languages for information and to address issues or concerns. The list of Coordinators of Official Languages can be found on the Director Official Languages intranet site.

Official Languages Act: Celebrating 50 years

National Defence is celebrating the anniversary of the passing of this Act in 1969 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. A panel discussion on the culture of bilingualism will also take place that day. Details on commemorative initiatives within the Defence Team can be found on the Official Languages Act 50th anniversary commemoration page.

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