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Becoming bilingual

They called him a man of destiny, and indeed he was. Louis Robichaud was born to a large Acadian family and educated in a one-room schoolhouse. Dedicated to his province, he had lifelong ambitions to improve the lot of Acadians and New Brunswickers alike. On June 27, 1960, he became the province's first-elected Acadian premier and for a decade he pushed for progress like no other before him.

On April 12, 1968, the New Brunswick legislature hears the final reading of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act and moves closer to becoming Canada's only bilingual province under the leadership of Premier Louis Robichaud. The passage of this Act will mean improved access to government services as well as the creation of new jobs in the public service for many Acadians. But it's a long struggle of implementation and many young Acadians say that New Brunswick bilingualism is far from becoming a reality.

This CBC Television retrospective examines New Brunswick's bilingual status. In the early days, student protesters demanded to be heard in French but were refused. The incidents escalated into court cases and more protests before eventual calm was reached. In this feature, former student protesters are interviewed about the change they tried to make and the fierce opposition they received from unsympathetic audiences including Moncton Mayor Leonard Jones.
• On Aug. 6, 2002, Moncton city council passed a motion to become Canada's first officially bilingual city. Steven Campbell, a former city councilor, said "I thought it would come some day but there was a time 30 years ago when that light at the end of the tunnel was nothing more than a pin prick. Tonight, the mayor and council took us out into the daylight."
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 22, 1988
Guest(s): Antonine Maillet, Claude Savoie
Host: Barbara Frum
Duration: 3:16

Last updated: November 9, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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