Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

January 09, 2008 08:30 ET

Commissioner of Official Languages Calls for Increased Support for Research on Linguistic Duality and for Researchers in Official Language Minority Communities

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 9, 2008) - Linguistic duality is given a low priority by federal government research funding agencies, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, said today. He was commenting on a study on the role of Canadian federal research funding agencies in the promotion of official languages. "Research on linguistic duality is a valuable tool for governments, which develop policies and programs, and for the communities themselves, so they can evaluate their vitality, progress and needs," said the Commissioner. "In order to respect their obligations under the Official Languages Act to promote linguistic duality and enhance the vitality of official language minority communities, federal research funding agencies must take the special circumstances of researchers in official language minority communities into account, enable them to conduct research in their own language and encourage research on linguistic duality."

This study examines the situation of researchers working in official language minority communities and looks at how official languages are being supported as a research subject. Beyond the low-priority status given to research on linguistic duality, the study shows that researchers in official language minority universities face other significant obstacles, including the general predominance of English in published research, the limited language skills of reviewers who assess funding proposals in French, as well as inadequate research infrastructure, support and networking opportunities in smaller universities.

In order to level the playing field without compromising excellence, these researchers need access to more appropriate tools and resources. The Commissioner noted that while federal research funding agencies can make important contributions in this regard, increased support from universities and the government is also needed. "Research on official language minority communities and linguistic duality needs to be better integrated into research programs and projects so it can become a priority in university and government research programs," said Mr. Fraser.

Fortunately, progress is within reach. The study reveals that both researchers and representatives of the research funding agencies are putting forth ideas and best practices to encourage research within post-secondary institutions in official language minority communities.

The Commissioner issued eight recommendations to federal research funding agencies in order to ensure that researchers from official language minority communities are better equipped and supported in their research efforts, as well as encourage research on issues related to linguistic duality. Mr. Fraser issued a further recommendation to the Canada Research Chairs Program inviting universities to create and fund research chairs related to official languages issues.

Please consult the study and the study highlights for further details.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
    Robin Cantin
    Manager, Media Relations
    613-995-0374/Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368
    Cellular: 613-324-0999
    robin.cantin@ocol-clo.gc.ca