I have been following for several days now the issue of bilingual hiring policies – especially in regards to the recent hot topic of the bilingual hiring policies of the Cornwall Community Hospital(CCH)that has captured so much of the Cornwall public’s attention span as of late.
To say that I have strong feelings towards this issue is an understatement. I support as many languages spoken and used in both public areas as well as workplaces as is humanly possible. Is it not worthwhile as well as logical to be able to support as many people as you can by serving in their respective languages? Yes it is, but somewhere one has to draw the line. It is an asset, or rather should be, to have the knowledge of speaking/writing several languages other than your mother tongue and to then be able to carry this knowledge into your workplace. But it shouldn’t be a requirement as per a hiring policy nor should it be considered a stumbling block for career advancement. Chris Cameron is correct in his assertion that the spoken/written knowledge of a language should not supersede one’s education or experience as a determining factor for consideration for a workplace position. A consideration no doubt, amongst a wide range of determining factors; but not a deal breaker.
Unfortunately, the health care field is not the only field of employment where this bilingual hiring policy holds true. To be considered for most provincial and/or federal government careers nowadays, one requires not only a basic knowledge of the French language but an advanced one – the obtaining of which is really only possible through a lifetime of conversing in that respective means.
I myself, have lost out on many job opportunities in the Cornwall area due to not being fluently bilingual. I can speak and write French but not to the degree of being officially considered ‘bilingual’ and therefore have lost out more times than I care to admit. To proponents who argue that a bilingual education is the key for grasping/mastering a second language I have this to say: ”I attended a French immersion school up until Grade 7 and continued French courses well through university and still do not meet the criteria of being officially ‘bilingual’.
And what does all of this add up to? It concludes with many highly educated young people leaving their birthplaces and hometowns to seek out a better life elsewhere due to unfair hiring policies!
I can’t help but feel that learning a second language should be considered an asset and not a requirement for obtaining a decent career. But many of us feel pressured into having to learn French in order to have a fighting chance at a reasonable career and therefore life. To me, this seems ludicrous. There are many instances in world history where one group, nation, ethnicity, creed etc. forces their respective languages/cultures on others and it never ends well. This letter will anger people, no doubt. However, last time I checked, we still lived in a democracy and not a totalitarian regime where one was free to still speak the truth. I fear that this concept is increasingly becoming lost as time goes on. We must always remember that ethnocentrism and to a larger extent, even imperialism sooner or later rears it’s ugly head and is discovered for what it really is.
Just yesterday I was driving by a French school in Timmins and noticed a stop sign written in French only. I couldn’t help but feel hurt by that. And it’s not only this. How is it that it’s constitutionally acceptable for one ethnic group to fly a flag that represents only one group and to also have it fly beside the official provincial as well as national flag?
With Kindest Regards,
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