Bernard Richard takes stock of linguistic diversity’s true strength
Few would describe New Brunswick as exotic. Then again, few have had the opportunity to hone their perspectives about the province’s cultural and linguistic diversity the way Bernard Richard has in his indelible way. And “exotic” is, for him, exactly the right word for what he observes.
“We have evolved tremendously over time into a very special place,” says the lawyer, social worker, former provincial cabinet minister and ombudsman. “The majority of New Brunswickers are proud of that. We have the potential of making this place almost unique among jurisdictions in North America. We have a rich mixture of two very strong, originally European, cultures. They both have significant places here. This is such an advantage for us, and we haven’t yet explored it to its fullest potential.”
In 2012, Dialogue New Brunswick presented the Lieutenant-Governor's Dialogue Award to Bernard Richard for his sustained efforts to foster harmony between our two official languages communities. In fact, as a member of numerous organizations committed to improving the conditions under which families and individuals live in New Brunswick, Canada and abroad, Mr. Richard continues to be a tireless champion of cultural and linguistic amplitude.
He is the Board Chairman of Plan Canada, which supports children in Third World countries, and Chair of a Working Group on children’s rights in Francophone countries. He is currently working with the Haiti Ombudsman to enhance the legal framework and independent oversight for children’s rights and child protection in that country.
All of which, perhaps, reminds him daily of New Brunswick’s advantage. “We have found a way to live together and to appreciate each other’s cultures and languages,” he says. “It makes us better and stronger, and that’s something we need to value.”
All of which, he says, have given him a perspective about New Brunswick’s cultural and linguistic fabric that is long-term and positive. “I had the privilege to be a cabinet minister given the task of promoting Moncton as the site of the 1999 Francophonie Summit,” he says. “So I had a wonderful opportunity to promote New Brunswick as a model not just for Canada but for the whole world. It’s our ability to collaborate harmoniously, across cultures and languages, that makes us rare.”
This feature is a copyright (2013) of Dialogue New/Nouveau-Brunswick, which promotes and celebrates understanding, respect, appreciation and inclusion among the Francophone and Anglophone cultures of New Brunswick.