Award recipients, former French-language services co-ordinators and a French-language services champion were recognized today, March 23, at the Bonjour! Awards for Excellence in French-language Services in Halifax. The awards recognize outstanding contributions to the development and delivery of French-language programs and services by employees of the government of Nova Scotia. It marks the first time government employees have been nominated by their colleagues and members of the public for such an award. “I extend sincere congratulations to everyone honoured at the ceremony today,” said Graham Steele, Minister of Acadian Affairs. “Offering services in French in Nova Scotia is a necessity. It means that Acadians and francophones can access information about life events in their maternal language. “Recognizing the value of French-language services helps government build its capacity to offer programs and services in French.” Awards were distributed to Dr. Pierre Lessard from Kingsport, for Excellence in Leadership; Jamie Benoît from Halifax, for Excellence in Program Development, and Albert LeBlanc from Port Hawkesbury, for Excellence in Service Delivery to the Public. Dr. Lessard is a French-language services co-ordinator at the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. He is a proponent of active offers and enthusiastically promotes their use in the health care field. An active offer combines a bilingual greeting with visual cues, such as pins or signs, that indicate that a service is available in English or French. Mr. Benoît is a webmaster for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. He has played a key role in helping develop and adapt French-language online programs. Mr. LeBlanc is a regional development officer for the Department of Economic and Rural Development. He has been an important liaison to the Centre d’aide en affaires et en entrepreneuriat in the Cape Breton region. The Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE) was recognized as the French-language Services Champion for its long-standing commitment to promoting and developing the Acadian and francophone community and for its partnership with the Office of Acadian Affairs. Eleven former French-language co-ordinators were also recognized. “We offer genuine thanks and congratulations the to the first recipients of the Bonjour! Awards for Excellence,” said Désiré Boudreau, president of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse. “Your efforts to offer services in French to the Acadian and francophone community are greatly appreciated.” Nominations for the 2011 Bonjour! Awards for Excellence in French-language Services open this fall.