Second Meeting with a Delegation from Sri Lanka

Délégation du Sri Lanka | Sri Lankan Delegation

On June 5, 2012, I had the privilege of meeting once again with a delegation responsible for implementing Sri Lanka’s official languages law. I had first met with this delegation in Ottawa in June 2010. The delegation was visiting Canada for the second time in connection with the Canadian International Development Agency’s National Languages Project, led by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute of the University of Ottawa and the firm Agriteam Canada.

The Sri Lankan government officials wanted to learn more about Canada’s official languages policies and practices. Like Canada, of course, Sri Lanka has two official languages. The two languages, Sinhala and Tamil, are spoken by about the same proportions of the Sri Lankan population as English and French are by the Canadian population.

The goals of the National Languages Project were to enhance relations between Sinhala speakers and Tamil speakers, increase respect for language rights and foster social cohesion. As is done in Canada, the Sri Lankan government plans to increase its citizens’ access to communications and public services in the official language of their choice.

The members of the delegation shared with me the challenges they are facing in that regard. First, they believe that they have to increase awareness of Sri Lanka’s official languages policy in its public service and among the general public. Through effective communications, the officials want to demonstrate the government’s commitment to implementing the policy.

Furthermore, the officials see the need to improve the operational structures involved in implementing the policy and to obtain more resources. They also identified the importance of revisiting national and provincial policies in the areas of education and national, provincial and local public service recruitment to bring them into line with the national language policy.

After hearing about the challenges encountered by the delegation’s members, I was happy to share with them what is being done here in Ontario. We discussed the purpose of the French Language Services Act, the role and approach of the Commissioner’s Office in relation to government ministries and agencies, and the way in which we conduct our investigations and follow-ups.

I have a great deal of respect for the members of the delegation seeking our support for Sri Lanka’s efforts to move forward with its official languages policy. I commend their leadership and their willingness to learn about our practices, and I will certainly be the first to take satisfaction if those practices serve as a basis for addressing the needs of their citizens.

Such constructive exchanges between international communities can lead to excellent progress, and I am proud of the fact that the Commissioner’s Office was able to participate in this initiative. This posting includes a photo of our meeting.

Comment

  1. Mohomed Niyas

    It is indeed an important occasion for us to meet French Language Commissioner of Ontario Mr.Boileau. It was really heartning to see the French Language commissioner’s effort to implement the French language services for the benefit of the French speaking community. I was really enticed by the speech he made at the time of concluding our meeting at his office.

    Thank you very much dear Commissioner Boileau.

    Merci Buku

    Mohomed Niyas

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