Patrick O’Brien Dialogue New Brunswick Board Member, Jocelyn (Josh) Ouellette from the Bathurst Youth Centre, Teréz Rétfalvi the wife of the late Frederic J. Arsenault, Fred Beairsto, Mirelle Cyr Co-Chair of Dialogue New Brunswick, Honourable Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau Lieutenant-Governor and Ronald Vienneau.
Bathurst Youth Centre
For 17 years, the Bathurst Youth Centre has walked the talk about official bilingualism in New Brunswick. The brainchild of Constable Jocelyn (Josh) Ouellette, the centre took a page from his daughter’s order book. As she told him one evening, “Dad, there is nothing to do here; it’s boring.” Knowing that boredom is a potential gateway to juvenile crime, Const. Ouellette got busy, creating, with the Bathurst City Police Department, a safe place where youth could thrive. Accompanied by several good friends and co-workers, he started this venture on September 11, 1997. Since its establishment, bilingualism has been essential to the organization. Each new employee must be fluent in both French and English. Each publication the organization produces must be available in both official languages. Furthermore, each activity is conducted bilingually. That includes: Youth and Homeless Outreach; Outreach for Women and Family victims of Domestic Violence; the Bathurst Emergency Shelter; the 2nd Chance Store; the Community Inclusion Network; the Youth Employment Coach; the Youth Activities Coordination; and the Community Involvement coordination program. The bottom line is that bilingualism is a fundamental value embedded in the only independent youth centre in Canada that is, in fact, fully bilingual.
Mr. Frederic J. Arsenault
Frederic Arsenault, born in Mont-Carmel, Prince Edward Island, was a policy and political player of the first order in New Brunswick. He was, among other things, one of the first Acadian Rhodes scholars who did postgraduate studies (Master’s Degree) at the celebrated University of Oxford in England. When he returned to New Brunswick, his adopted province, he devoted his life to the service of both linguistic communities in all the positions he held, whether as a senior public servant, deputy minister or policy advisor to the premier of New Brunswick. In this capacity, and by his active role behind the scene, he contributed to the creation of the Francophone school and community centres in the province, the construction of the Village historique acadien, Pays de la Sagouine and Marine Centre; later on, as a private consultant, he contributed greatly to obtaining funding and the establishment of the Knowledge Park in Paquetville. Thanks to his determination, the Acadian community now benefits from many historical, cultural and educational institutions. He always ensured that this community was not forgotten without diminishing the opportunities available to Anglophone and Aboriginal communities. As the Francophone advisor to former Premier Richard Hatfield, he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to convince the provincial government to proclaim, in 1977, the final articles of the Official Languages Act, which had been adopted in 1969. Frederic Arsenault passed away in March 2013, but the legacy of his work lives on.
Mr. Fred Beairsto
For years, Mr. Beairsto has been a passionate and articulate advocate of linguistic duality in New Brunswick. In the early 1990s, he accepted a position to co-chair the Citizen’s Committee on Language and Culture in New Brunswick at a time when tensions between certain political factions in English- and French-speaking communities were riding high. Mr. Beairsto consistently chose the highest ground possible, finding ways to encourage cooperation, collaboration and common sense among the province’s cultural identities. He led the discussion with foresight, intelligence and sympathy. He brought respect to the Committee he helped forge. At a difficult time in New Brunswick’s linguistic history, Mr. Beairsto’s contributions stood out: his generosity of spirit and intellect; his commitment and dedication to good will and positive and constructive outcomes; his determination to find and codify effective, long-lasting solutions to linguistic tensions. His many friends and supporters call him “empathetic”, “reasonable”, a “listener”, a “game-changer of the first order”, a man who will, in other words, work for the greater good in order to facilitate positive and durable change for the province he loves and ultimately believes in. For this reason, alone, Fred Beairsto exemplifies the best of New Brunswick and the complex wealth of linguistic duality it promises.