Bilingual Service Centres: Serving Franco-Manitobans for 15 years
You’re probably wondering what a bilingual service centre is.
In 2002, when Manitoba officially opened the first Bilingual Service Centre (BSC) in Saint Boniface, it was a real victory for Francophones living in the province’s minority communities. A BSC is a one-stop centre where Manitobans can access services in French from their municipality, the province, the federal government and community organizations all in one location! (A great idea, don’t you think? Vive le français!)
The first 2 BSCs were launched in 2002. Later, between 2003 and 2012, 4 more BSCs were set up in urban and rural areas of Manitoba. They’re located in regions that are designated bilingual, and their staff can serve you in the official language of your choice. (That’s great! C’est fantastique!)
BSCs are unique to Manitoba! They offer a wide variety of programs and services. And each BSC has an information specialist from the Manitoba government who is available to answer any questions from clients, refer them to services and support them in accessing those services. The team also includes a “navigator” for the Interlake Region who works at the BSC in St. Laurent. She provides culturally appropriate outreach services for the Métis community. The navigator serves clients in the official language of their choice, as well as in Michif, a mixed language that combines Cree and French. (Bonjour! Hello! Bonjur!) She also promotes healthy living, cultural and recreational programs.
2017: an exciting year
In 2017, information specialists organized or welcomed tour groups for newcomers in rural areas. They also promoted the BSCs at information kiosks during various community events, worked on community projects and coordinated different information sessions for the Francophone community. The information sessions, which were for people of all ages, focused on various legal matters and the protection of citizens’ rights. They provided information on the history of Francophone rights in Manitoba and on different types of fraud. The sessions also shed light on certain beliefs and provided tips to try.
Last August, the 50th Canada Games took place in Winnipeg, and the BSCs were there! In a single day, we spoke to hundreds of people at our kiosk. (It was non-stop all day!) People of all ages from all over the province and the country came to find out about our services and play fun bilingual games!
Finally, we couldn’t let 2017 go by without celebrating the BSCs’ 15th anniversary. The big day was celebrated on October 25 in Manitoba’s 6 BSCs. Members of the community were invited to talk with us, enjoy some birthday cake, and, of course, share how important BSCs are in their region! (It was truly inspiring!)
This year is going to be as exciting as last year. Stay tuned for upcoming news, and visit the website for Manitoba's Bilingual Service Centres!
Like the clients of Manitoba’s BSCs, do you have access to services in your own language where you live? How important is that for you?
Translated by Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada
The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.
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