Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in reply to the ministerial statement. I welcome the government's plan to modernize the Official Languages Act.
I come from New Brunswick, the only officially bilingual province in Canada. I am proud to represent the riding of Fredericton, where so many people live and work in both official languages. That reality exemplifies the vision for society that Canadians adopted more than 50 years ago.
As mentioned by other colleagues today, the French language unites millions of people across Canada. In every province and territory, people share stories, love and dream in French. It is of the utmost importance not only to protect the language, but also to take steps to ensure it thrives and flourishes.
I have a deep personal connection to what language represents and an endless empathy for what it means when someone has lost the ability to express their deepest thoughts in the language that once belonged to their ancestors. Language is the reflection of our soul. It is the means by which we are able to better describe the world in which we live, without hesitation or doubt, with love.
When my stepfather was growing up, he and everyone he knew was shamed for speaking Wolastoqiyik. Shame is a powerful weapon. It cuts deep and almost totally severed the connection of his people to their language, the language that should be passed on to my children. Language is at the root of identity. Once this land was a diverse forest of cultural identity, and it can be again with the proper nourishment.
As we protect the two official languages of this country, let us also ensure that the ones spoken on this land for millennia take root to stand proud and strong once again. I am encouraged by the minister's statement affirming the unfailing support of our government toward preserving and revitalizing indigenous languages—