Bilingualism | Possible exemption for public servants speaking an Aboriginal language

(Ottawa) High-ranking officials are considering offering native language courses to federal employees. They are also considering offering an exemption for those who already speak one while having sufficient knowledge of English or French, documents reveal.

The Canadian Press obtained these documents through the Access to Information Act.

A memo circulated last fall mentioning that a working group had been formed to discuss possible changes to bilingualism requirements in the federal public service.

The memo includes email exchanges between two deputy ministers discussing the possibility of offering an exemption to employees who can speak an Indigenous language, such as Governor General Mary Simon.

Mme Simon, an Inuit, speaks English and Inuktitut, but not French. She is learning the language of Molière.

Senior officials have also suggested that non-Indigenous employees be offered the opportunity to take an Indigenous language course, with the goal of reconciliation.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he supports the idea, but he doesn’t want teachers removed from Indigenous communities where they help revive lost languages.

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