The University of Ottawa and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages are launching a lecture series to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. The lectures will highlight the commission's social, political, educational and cultural impact on Canada. They will take place between February and June, in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Moncton.
In 1963, the Pearson government convened the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, also known as the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, to study Canada's language situation. The commission's recommendations changed the Canadian cultural landscape and brought major change to language policy and human rights.
Graham Fraser, commissioner of official languages of Canada, will present the inaugural lecture in the series, entitled Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Through its recommendations, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism left us with both an official languages policy and a multiculturalism policy. These policies are central to the fundamental Canadian values of linguistic duality and cultural diversity. The commission's recommendations helped establish Canada's linguistic framework, not only resulting in the Official Languages Act but also in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thus giving the linguistic framework a quasi-constitutional status, said Fraser.
The University of Ottawa, which was actively involved with the commission, is pleased to be part of its fiftieth anniversary celebration and to host the inaugural and concluding lectures. In its brief to the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, the University of Ottawa presented its own experience, imperfect though it was, as indisputable proof that the ideal of bilingualism could be attained, noted University of Ottawa president Allan Rock. Even today, the university continues to embody the values and spirit that guided the commission, whose conclusions undeniably changed the country, said Rock, who will also speak at the inaugural lecture.
It should be noted that, as part of the series, Professor Linda Cardinal, a specialist on bilingualism and language rights, will organize a symposium on the anniversary titled La Commission royale d'enquête sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme à 50 ans : retour sur une période révolue? during the 2013 congress of the Association francophone pour le savoir.
About the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
In 1963, the Pearson government convened the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, also known as the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission. The commission published its final report and recommendations in 1969. Under the joint chairmanship of André Laurendeau, editor of Le Devoir, and Davidson Dunton, president of Carleton University, the commission's mandate was to investigate and report on the state of bilingualism and biculturalism, and to recommend measures so that Confederation could develop based on the principle of equality between the two founding peoples. The recommendations were also supposed to take into account the contribution of other ethnic groups to the enrichment of Canada's culture and include measures to safeguard this contribution.
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