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Canadians share their views on official bilingualism

Signs in the Grade 2 french class of Natalie Ruel at Mother Teresa elementary school in Calgary, Alberta, June 21, 2012.

TODD KOROL/The Globe and Mail

"Bilingualism differentiates us from the Americans. Europeans know two or three languages. My father, who hails from India, can speak five different languages. The more languages one knows, the better one can adapt in life."

- Mamun Ansari, Montreal

"As it stands right now, English-speaking Canadians are being treated like second-class citizens and cannot get a decent job because many jobs have been deemed bilingual. Hiring was once based on merit not on whether one can speak the French language. French is not the language used worldwide, it is English!"

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- Elaine, Ottawa

"I believe strongly that it is important to be bilingual/multilingual but Spanish and Mandarin are far more useful. Official bilingualism is irrelevant."

- Currie Gillespie, Winnipeg

"Bilingualism isn't just a civic duty, or the means to that coveted government job, it is what keeps us connected, and allows us to gain perspective on the 'other' culture. Being bilingual enables people to collaborate, communicate and understand each other. Cheesy, I know, but it's true. Without embarking on some ill-advised political tangent, suffice it to say that investing in bilingualism is, in my view, the solution to the separatist movement."

- Fiona, Toronto

"It's important to be able to communicate with all Canadians and our two official languages are the vehicle to do so. The French culture is just as important a part of Canada as is the English one."

- Richard Graham, Brandon, Man.

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"Attending a French immersion program in the '70s in Edmonton has given me huge benefits. I participated in Quebec cultural and educational student exchanges, attended university in Montreal, worked for francophone organizations and learned two more languages in postsecondary education. I have now spent the last 15 years living in Asia where I am trying to ensure the same gift is offered to my children. The more languages we can teach our children, the more opportunities they will have and a stronger Canada we will build."

- Jane Cowling, Hong Kong

"I myself, as a new citizen, was enrolled in French immersion and think it definitely qualifies as a better quality education for the simple fact that it's that much more challenging and enriching and just broadens the entire education experience. Not to mention the bonuses that come once school is finished."

- Eiman, Toronto

"It's important to be bilingual but not English-French bilingual. There are a lot more important languages in the world right now other than French. Chinese, for example, would be far more useful to most people living in or around Vancouver. It's spoken by hundreds of millions of people all over the world.

- Elias Gasparis, Tsawwassen, B.C.

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"I had the chance to enroll in immersion French in middle school, and I declined the opportunity so that I could be with my friends in class. Now, as a twenty-something living in Montreal and participating in language exchanges and enrolled in night courses, I am kicking myself a little bit."

- Valerie Henderson, Montreal

"I attended a French immersion school as a child and I am considering enrolling my children in a French immersion school. I think it does lead to a better quality education and may increase future employment opportunities."

- Maria Montgomery, Victoria

"I will advise my children and discourage them from even attempting to learn French. It is a complete waste of time. However, I will encourage them to learn Spanish and, if they want a challenge, one of the Chinese dialects."

- Brad Shirvell, Calgary

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About the Author
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

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