chapter  5
Life on the Edge: Canada's Aboriginal Languages Under Official Bilingualism
Pages 34

For many in and out of Canada, Canadian "language policy" refers to the country's struggles with the relative status of English and French. There is little doubt that this national preoccupation has hindered the development of a more comprehensive approach to linguistic issues. In modern times, the defining step was taken by the Trudeau government of 1968-1972, which established the policy of "multiculturalism in a bilingual framework," arbitrarily divorcing cultural and linguistic rights. Through the Official Languages Act, (Canada, 1988) and the language clauses of the Constitution Act (1982), the federal government guarantees the rights of English and French speakers in the areas of law, education and government services. This is the meaning of "bilingualism" in official policy, a pragmatic solution to the fact that of Canada's 28 million people, 63% report English as a mother tongue and 25% report French (Statistics Canada, 1991b). The remaining 12% of the population enjoy no such guarantees,} and must

generally struggle along on volunteer efforts and tiny amounts of funding if they wish to provide even the mostbasic services in a nonofficial language to their children or their community.