FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following message was issued by Premier Blaine Higgs in recognition of Official Languages Day in New Brunswick, which will be celebrated annually on the second Thursday of September:

Today, the provincial government joins the federal government and other organizations across Canada in promoting our two official languages and celebrating our rich linguistic heritage throughout the country.

More than ever, it is important to proudly recognize New Brunswick’s unique standing for more than 50 years now as Canada’s only officially bilingual province. I encourage all residents of our province to take advantage of the opportunity this special day presents to celebrate our bilingual status and reflect on the many social and economic benefits of bilingualism.

The government of Premier Louis J. Robichaud adopted the Official Languages Act in 1969 in response to the social and economic inequality between the anglophone and francophone communities. This act, acknowledging English and French as the province’s two official languages, is the most important social contract our population had entered into to remedy the inequality in New Brunswick society. Since then, all residents of the province have had the right to receive government services in the official language of their choice.

We should all be proud of this achievement and continue to work together to strengthen ties between our two linguistic communities so that every family in every part of the province can equally reap the benefits of the prosperity we are building on the foundation of bilingualism right here in New Brunswick.

The provincial public service is known for its dedication, integrity and diversity clearly reflecting our linguistic duality. On this first provincial day celebrating our official languages, I want to acknowledge the professionalism and resiliency of all employees across our public service who take on the responsibility for implementing the various aspects of the Official Languages Act. I thank them for their diligent efforts on a daily basis to provide quality services to all residents of our province in both official languages.

By declaring that the second Thursday of September of each year will be Official Languages Day in New Brunswick, the provincial government is reaffirming its commitment to bilingualism and the full development of both official language communities, as well as to the principles and object of the act. This is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the new Secretariat of Official Languages.

The mandate of the secretariat is to co-ordinate, support and promote the Official Languages Act within the provincial government and among the public. Reporting to the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, it positions us to build the provincial government’s capacity to provide quality services as efficiently as possible in both French and English.