Fredericton, March 31, 2014 – Language commissioners from around the world gathered on March 21, 2014, in Barcelona, Spain for the inaugural conference of the newly established International Association of Language Commissioners (IALC).
Participants at the conference came from places as varied as Finland, Hungary, Kosovo and Ireland. They discussed issues such as language rights and challenges in an era of globalization and the impact of minority-language education on the preservation and advancement of minority languages. Case studies on the impact of investigations conducted by commissioners’ offices on language rights were also discussed. In addition, round-table discussions were held on the role that the IALC can play in sharing investigation best practices and in promoting language-related research.
During this event, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, gave a presentation on the role of Francophone schools in the protection and development of the francophone community in this province. ‘’Duality within the school system provides a solid foundation for the development of the Francophone and Acadian community of New Brunswick,” she explained. “Our provincial education system generates tremendous interest in other parts of the world as it could serve as a model in multilingual countries.’’
“It has been a great privilege to have our inaugural conference in Barcelona” said Graham Fraser, Chairman of the IALC. “We all appreciated the great hospitality of our host, the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó”. The IALC was created last May in Dublin, Ireland. Its mission is to support and advance language rights, equality and diversity throughout the world and to help language commissioners work to the highest professional standards. This will be achieved by:
• Sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge of best practices;
• Advising and assisting in the establishment of language commissioners’ offices;
• Facilitating an exchange of training and professional development resources, research and information;
• Cooperating with like-minded organizations that value the promotion and protection of language rights and diversity.
Current membership in the IALC includes representatives from regions and countries with language commissioners, including Catalonia, Wales, Ireland, Kosovo, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Canada (including New Brunswick, Ontario, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories).
The next IALC conference will take place in Ottawa, Canada, in the spring of 2015.
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick