Justice in Official Languages - Newsletter
(No02 | July 2011)

Language training for justice stakeholders: A pragmatic approach

The Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-2013: Acting for the Future – the Government of Canada’s commitment towards linguistic duality – identified the justice sector as providing essential services to official language minority communities. In response, the Government invested an additional $20 million in the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund. This money will serve to finance training projects for justice stakeholders for the purpose of improving the provision of justice services in both official languages.

The training projects that receive financial support from the Support Fund are a reflection of the people who are, either directly or indirectly, interested in justice in official languages: these projects are proactive, innovative and, above all, seek to meet the needs of justice stakeholders. These projects take on various forms, from traditional training sessions to innovative teaching methods.

“Justice must reflect the country’s linguistic reality. […] For Canadians, this will mean improved access to justice services in the official language of the minority both today and in the future”.[1]

Addressing the Requirements

The Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Needs in the Area of Justice was conducted in 2009 at the request of the Department of Justice Canada to ensure that the new funds were directed as effectively as possible.

Through interviews, case studies and a panel of experts, the Analysis came up with a series of strategies that should be given priority in order to strengthen existing training activities and to identify areas where needs have only partially been met.

The Analysis revealed that the justice system relies on a significant number of justice stakeholders who have enough basic knowledge to communicate in both languages, but do not have sufficient mastery of legal vocabulary to fully carry out their duties. The Analysis also revealed that on-the-job training was often the only way for some stakeholders to master legal discourse in both official languages and that more training sessions were needed to meet the demand.

To meet the training needs identified in the Analysis it would be necessary to develop activities that give stakeholders the opportunity to improve their skills and fluency so they could work effectively in both official languages.

This led to an ambitious project which began with the creation of the Centre canadien de français juridique (CCFJ) in January 2010. The Centre has the specific mission to meet the demand and the legal terminology training needs identified in the Analysis. (See the article on the next page)

All in all, the Department of Justice Canada’s commitment to Canada’s linguistic duality within the justice system is evident, and the motivation of justice stakeholders and community organizations is a driving force that is essential to making a difference in the area of justice in official languages in Canada.


[1] Government of Canada, Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-2013: Acting for the Future, Ottawa, Canadian Heritage, 2008, p. 12.

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