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Press Release

Odyssey — One of Canada's Leading Second-Language Education Programs — Celebrates 40 Years

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Aug. 23, 2013 /CNW/ - This year marks the 40th anniversary of Odyssey (formerly the Official-Language Monitor Program). Odyssey was established in 1973 by the federal government and the provinces and territories to foster French and English as a second language among Canada's youth.

The program provides young Canadians with the opportunity to travel to another part of the country where they serve as language assistants in English- or French-as-a-second-language classes or in French-as-first-language classes. Program participants learn about another part of Canada, and students are able to interact with a speaker of the official language being taught. In both cases, cultural exchange goes hand in hand with language acquisition.

Since the program was first launched in 1973, tens of thousands of young people have taken the challenge and trained to become language assistants in classrooms from Victoria to Whitehorse to St. John's.

"Ministers of education are very proud of the success of Odyssey, one of Canada's leading second-language education programs," said the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development for Nova Scotia. "CMEC is committed to continuing Canada's long tradition of quality official-languages education, both through individual provincial and territorial programs and initiatives and through pan-Canadian programs like Odyssey."

Gala celebrations are taking place now in Quebec City, where 270 full-time language assistants are attending this year's national training session to prepare them for their duties before they head off to host schools across the country. Additional commemorative events will be taking place throughout the year.

For more information about Odyssey, visit

For more information on Odyssey's sibling program, Explore, which provides students with a five-week intensive immersion course in English or French at one of the many colleges and universities that offer the program over the summer months, visit

Both Odyssey and Explore are funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and are administered by provinces and territories, in cooperation with CMEC.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada's ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more information, visit us at

SOURCE: Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

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