Inuit Translators Want to Create Support Network, Standardize Language

Journalist, CBC NEWS

February 13, 2016 – Inuit interpreters and translators made a number of recommendations on the final day of the Inuit language authority's week-long conference, including creating a better support network for those who suffer from ‘vicarious trauma.'

Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit (IUT) hosted 120 delegates who work in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun for the Apqutauvugut conference in Iqaluit.

“We provide a bridge between the two cultures and it's not an easy task,” said Lazarus Arreak, who works in the field. “You really must be committed.”

Like many people at the conference, Arreak first began translating for his unilingual relatives, so they could communicate with outsiders who wished to trade goods or simply learn about Inuit culture.

Interpreters feel pain, depression

Since the 1970s, he's translated documents for national organizations, provided simultaneous translations at meetings and worked as a cultural advisor on movie sets.

“A lot of times, at meetings for example, you're treated as robots,” he said.

The stress of always needing to get information correct has taken a toll on him both emotionally and physically, leading him to develop ulcers in his youth.

“In the early years it's hard to tell your body is aching and hurting and traumatized,” said Arreak.

“We are people too. We do feel anger, pain and frustration. And depression too.”

‘Insurmountable stress'

Louis Tapardjuk, an IUT board member and a former territorial MLA and cabinet minister, says it's very important for interpreters and translators to know they are not alone in having these feelings.

“When you're dealing with justice, when you're dealing with health issues, when you're dealing with other very complex and rather difficult situations where the interpreters are expected to interpret it without making any mistakes, the stress is insurmountable,” Tapardjuk said.

In Nunavut, interpreter and translator booths are commonplace at the legislative assembly, the courthouse and public meetings held in community halls across the territory — but their needs are sometimes forgotten.

“We hear things that are extremely difficult, whether it's suicide prevention, whether it's ailments, health, medical,” said Jeela Palluq-Cloutier, the executive director of Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit.

“We need a way to let that go. We need a way to take care of ourselves.”

READ FULL ARTICLE:,. “‘The Stress Is Insurmountable': Inuit Translators Look For Support“. N. p., 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

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