Translators should join forces

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 04/97) - The Dene Cultural Institute in Hay River wants to set up a new umbrella organization for aboriginal translation services.

And it has already approached two separate branches of the GNWT -- which recently announced translation and interpretation services for aboriginal languages would be privatized -- for support.

"What we've done is introduce an idea to interpreters and the GNWT," said Joanne Barnaby, executive director of the institute. "The idea we've introduced is to look at setting up a for-profit company, with the interpreters being shareholders."

Charles Dent (left), territorial minister of education, culture and employment, said he and his department have not yet had an opportunity to fully consider the proposal, but they will be examining the issue in the upcoming weeks.

Barnaby said the institute would be seeking interim financial support from the GNWT, but only until the business is viable on its own.

Under the scheme, interpreters will have the option of acquiring shares in the new venture over time as they earn income through the interpreting services they provide.

Also, the business will help organize people who still wish to work as an interpreters, but don't necessarily want to start up their own business. "We came up with the idea largely in response to interpreters," said Barnaby.

Some interpreters are worried because they still want to work in the field but lack business skills or don't want to spend time and money acquiring those skills.

There is also the possibility that unregulated private industry won't maintain historic standards

Susie Napayok, who runs a private translation service called Sila Interpreting, said she is concerned the standard already set in the industry may suffer if untrained translators are allowed to open.

"I would like to see only certified or trained interpreters in the industry," said Napayok.

She added that she believes most interpreters running private operations are conscious of the need to keep standards high.