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

The Centre canadien de français juridique: Better Serving Francophones in the Courts

The Centre canadien de français juridique (CCFJ) was created in January 2010 with the goal of addressing the need and demand for French legal terminology training identified by the Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice.

Rénald Rémillard, executive director of the CCFJ, gave an interview to the Newsletter.

Q - What does the Centre do, exactly?

A - For the time being, the target clienteles for our activities are Crown attorneys, court clerks, probation officers and provincially appointed judges. It is not inconceivable that, in the coming years, the CCFJ could develop specific training activities for other key stakeholders in the judicial system.

Q - How do you operate?

A - Currently, our biggest program is the Canada-wide legal French training program. It offers one-day training activities in twelve regions across Canada, as well as intensive regional and national sessions over five consecutive days. We also offer customized training activities based on the specific needs expressed by certain groups of justice professionals.

For example, from September to December 2010, the CCFJ offered one-day training sessions on impaired driving to 105 participants in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Iqaluit, Regina, St. John’s, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Whitehorse, Winnipeg and Yellowknife. In the winter of 2012, we will offer a new series of one-day training sessions on a different topic in these same cities.

From January to March 2011, we offered two intensive five-day training sessions on the theme of witness testimony in Vancouver and Halifax. The sessions included mock trials, workshops on court assessment of witness credibility, legal terminology games, and presentations by experts on ballistics, psychiatry, narcotics, crime scenes, etc.

Q - Who are your trainers?

A - First and foremost, I should point out that the program has been developed by Donald Legal and Sylvie Léger, two jurists who have been working for nearly a decade in the field of training and who have solid experience and expertise in legal French training. They are responsible for designing, creating and presenting all of the program content. They also provide training to all of the trainers who lead our sessions.

All of our trainers have three essential qualities: superb knowledge of French, strong fluency in French, and an excellent familiarity with the professional environment of our target clientele. Our training team currently consists of a dozen professionals from across Canada, including Crown attorneys, court clerks and probation officers. The professional knowledge of our trainers not only enriches the participants’ experience but also makes the training sessions more useful and relevant.

Q - Do participants need to be perfectly bilingual in order to participate in CCFJ training sessions?

A - Our program is not a “French as a second language” program. In order to participate, you must be able to express yourself in French. You do not need a perfect command of French, but you have to be able to express your thoughts clearly and make yourself understood, both orally and in writing. For the time being, people who want to participate in our program must undergo an informal evaluation of their language skills, which can be done over the telephone. In cases where an applicant’s language skills are not strong enough to enrol in the program, we suggest he or she take French-language classes first. Several institutions, colleges, universities and schools offer these kinds of classes across Canada. For example, Winnipeg’s Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface offers basic French training.

Q - What instructional tools and methods do you use?

A - We adapt our tools and methods to the needs of our clientele. In addition to classroom training activities, we are currently developing projects using new Web-based educational technology in order to create online training programs. Thanks to additional financial support from the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund, we are actively working to integrate information technology into our current training offerings and to develop tools that could be used as part of continuing education, outside of formal training sessions. We are also considering creating webinars on specific justice-related topics, as well as videos, podcasts and other activities that promote networking among stakeholders in the justice system.

Conclusion

The CCFJ is a good example of an initiative that specifically addresses a number of needs identified by the Canada-Wide Analysis. Thanks to the activities and tools created as part of its Canada-wide legal French training program, the CCFJ is helping to improve the linguistic skills of many key stakeholders in the Canadian justice system. To find out more about the CCFJ and its activities, we invite you to visit its Web site at www.ccfjinc.ca.

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