New Brunswick

How do New Brunswickers really feel about bilingualism? Dialogue NB wants to know

The new CEO of Dialogue New Brunswick wants to get an accurate reading of how people feel about bilingualism in the province.

New CEO commissioning study to get an accurate reading of the province

Nadine Duguay-Lemay is the new CEO of Dialogue New Brunswick, a non-profit organization aimed at fostering better relationships between English-speaking and French-speaking New Brunswickers. (Facebook )

How much support is there, really, for bilingualism in Canada's only bilingual province? 

The new CEO of Dialogue New Brunswick wants to get an accurate reading of how New Brunswickers feel about the issue and what to do about it. 

Nadine Duguay-Lemay, who took on the job a few weeks ago, is commissioning a study on the subject.

Dialogue NB is a non-profit organization focused on strengthening the relationship between anglophones and francophones by getting them to talk and listen to each other.

The study will consist of a review of existing research on the topic of bilingualism, so that the organization can better understand and appreciate citizens' views. 

There are anecdotes about the sometimes tense relationship, but Duguay-Lemay said the group wants something more concrete and evidence-based.

"Where the linguistic file is such a controversial one, because it touches culture, heritage and so many emotional fibres in people's beings, where I want to take this discussion is just bring it back to facts," she said.

Duguay-Lemay grew up in Tracadie-Sheila and has lived in different cities in New Brunswick, as well as in Alberta, Costa Rica and India.

Emotional subject

She was a participant at the 2015 Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference, and her background includes work in marketing for financial institutions, managing an arts centre, and founding several community organizations.  

From those experiences, Duguay-Lemay said she's found bilingualism can be a touchy subject that brings up a lot of emotions for people.

"It always stems from emotions," she said. "It's always something that has happened to somebody.

"To talk about this file and where people stand, you almost have to dig and dig. Tell me about your background, tell me about this."

Something to celebrate

Ultimately, what she wants to do as Dialogue NB's CEO is make the province a place where bilingualism is celebrated and actually encourages people to move here.

"New Brunswick cannot afford to really be fighting among ourselves," she said. "We need to be coming together."

Right now, Dialogue NB is meeting with consultants.

Once the study is complete, the group will share the findings widely, Duguay-Lemay said.

With files from Information Morning Moncton