Wed AM Panel – Interpreting for Aboriginal Peoples

Wednesday morning’s panel focused on Interpreting for Aboriginal Peoples.  The panel was moderated by Ian Martin Coordinator, Linguistics & Language Studies Program
Multidisciplinary Studies, Glendon College who opened by sharing that the languages talked about in this panel were different from the previous panel in that these languages don’t have armies and navies to back them up.  That support and use of these languages is not just about access to systems and institutions, but also about maintaining the health of the community.  So, in many ways, efforts to preserve indigenous languages is akin to the efforts to preserve ASL by the Deaf community and its supporters.
The featured speakers were:

Panel on Interpreting for Aboriginal Peoples
Dr. Arnaq Grove, Ms. Vera Houle, Mr. Victor Sosa & Ms. Martha Flaherty,

  • Mr. Victor Sosa, Natividad Medical Center, Salinas California
    • Works in the central coast of California
      • strong agricultural area ~ “the salad bowl of the US”
    • Many immigrants from southern Mexico who speak indigenous language
    • Did needs study and found
      • 80% of patients were Latino
      • #1 LEP language was Spanish
      • #2 LEP language was Mixteco (indigenous language from Oaxaca in southern Mexico)
      • #3 LEP language was tied between Vietnamese and Trichy
    • Language services needed to work with providers so they could learn what to request in terms of language services
      • Initially, requests came for things like “We need an Indian language” which led to conversation about whether it was Hindi or Urdu and led to figuring out that it was someone from Mexico.
    • Worked with community leaders who had started interpreters, but had no training
      • Provided training to 27 individuals who spoke indigenous languages (all had a common language of Spanish)
      • 30% of individuals were able to pass exit test
      • Offered internships as follow-up in an healthcare environment
        • Opportunity to better understand Western medical environment and worldview
      • Had follow-up trainings outside of healthcare environment like in social services & interpreting forms like a consent
      • Training started from the pragmatics of why things happen in the healthcare settings
    • Frequently use relay interpreting from English to Spanish to Mixteco (or other indigenous languages)
    • Unexpected Outcomes
      • Community was eager to do something and fully supported the effort
        • Natividad Medical Foundation has supposed language services and the indigenous groups
        • President of foundation is attending the conference now
        • Agricultural community has supported the efforts strongly
        • Important to publicize any success so that the community can get behind the work
      • Bringing community leaders turned out to be great resources
        • Important to ask the community members about their needs
        • So, while community leaders were learning about the hospital, the hospital was learning about the community
      • Now providers are able to call and identify not only the language but also the dialect
      • He shared a story about how an interpreter
  • Ms. Martha Flaherty, Free-lance Inuktitut Interpreter, Senate of Canada
    • Began by acknowledging other aboriginal colleagues present
    • Residential schools – no contact with parents for 10 months
      • Community used the children as interpreters
      • Started as an interpreter at 18
      • Had a variety of training
    • Interpreting for Parliament
    • Interprets at conferences from around the Arctic that includes 7 languages
    • Challenges as an Inuk interpreter is that English is very good for science and technology, but limited in its ability to express feelings and the relationships among family members.
    • Another example was the English word, skin, which in Inukitut has many variations depending
    • Common misconceptions of Inuit people
      • Don’t kiss with their nose
      • Are more than iglus and carvings
  • Ms. Vera Houle, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
    • From Sandy Bay, Manitoba
    • First language is Ojibwe, Second language is English
    • The network showed the Olympics and had it translated into aboriginal languages
      • Asked elders in the four directions which languages to pick
      • Through discussion with community, picked 10 languages
      • Had 27 aboriginal speakers who helped telecast the Olympics
        • Spent 6-9 months training with sportscasters to learn how to talk about sports
      • Had to go home for funeral and saw the impact of having the Olympics shown in the community
      • A survivor of residential schools
        • Grandfather always told her that it was important to preserve the language, especially with the children
        • When returning home from school, re-learned Ojibwe from grandparents, and helped grandparents learn English
      • Will reflect more later on the differences of residential/boarding schools for indigenous people in North America and residential schools for Deaf people.
  • Dr. Arnaq Grove, University of Greenland
    • Teaches
    • Lutheran mission from Denmark using Greenlandic in the mission
    • After World War II, general agreement that Greenlandic culture and language was an obstacle in the development.
    • For 30 years after that, focus was on learning Danish at the expense of Greenlandic.
    • Young people were brought for immersion programs to Denmark
    • Home Rule started in 1979
      • Brought focus back to Greenlandic with less focus on Denmark
        • Ability to educate in Greenlandic grammar wasn’t there
        • Currently, Greenlandic is still thriving, but grammar is not pure
        • Danish still penetrates public life
      • Local university established in 1979
        • Challenge to keep up with dynamic reality of needs and problems
        • Attempting to coordinate efforts to develop Greenlandic
      • Translators and Interpreters
        • Cadre of people who have a lifelong experience of doing this work
        • Their knowledge is very specific to Greenlandic contexts
        • Most are in their 50s so need to collect their experiences to pass it on to the next generation
      • Academic Program for translators and interpreters established in Sept 2012
        • Academic values:
          • Have general perspective of rule and function of translation and interpretation
          • Be Conscious of ones own perception and opinion of subject
          • Be aware of one’s limitations
          • Ability to profess ones views relating them to a factual basis and make attitudes explicit
        • Giving competence to support
        • Development of Greenlandic to form modern Greenland
        • Bachelor’s education with 2 years graduate work as an option
          • 1/2 year internship in Greenland or abroad
          • Incorporating experienced professionals
        • Uses Bi-Bi approach
          • Use Danish text books with slides in Danish
          • Use spoken Greelandic for teaching in the classroom
        • Uses role-plays in the classrooms
          • Learn to speak loud and clear fluently
          • Learn how to evaluate and identify and prioritize what needs improvement
          • Classroom discussion helps train students to evaluate application of norms in case study
          • Overcome shyness/bashfulness
          • Less abstract base for fundamental discussions:
            • Secrecy
            • Close relationship
            • Power dynamics
        • In the future, will try to use video recordings for role-playing
          • Look at context and interplay
          • Understand the role of body language in communication
        • Students have assignment to create a case story dealing with government officials and interpreters and a client
      • First group of interpreting students
        • Age 19-25
          • Relatively fluent in Greenlandic
          • Not as fluent in Danish
          • Helping to development the terminology and lexicon of hte profession
          • Are planning to organize a union
      • Future Trends
        • Look to have more impacts from technology
        • A developing network that will use professionals as speakers and help respect the variety of dialects of all iniut languages