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Government hunts for translators

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 22/06) - Officials with the legislative assembly say that a recent call for submissions for translators is in response to their desire to broadcast legislative assembly sessions in all 11 of the territory's official languages.

"We are looking at a number of options right now," said Paul Delorey, speaker of the NWT legislative assembly.

"One is, through satellite, recording the parliament proceedings and sending it to all 33 communities in the NWT so they can have a taped version in their own language."

They are asking for interpreters in 10 of the 11 official languages of the NWT. English is the 11th.

In April of this year, the Federation Franco-Tenois won its court case against the territorial government for not providing essential services in French.

As part of his decision in regards to the Official Languages Act, Justice J.M. Moreau gave the government six months to start translating Hansard, the legislative's official transcript, into French. The deadline expired in October, and rather then face penalties, the government suspended its publication.

It is not known if the government will continue Hansard when the next sitting of legislature occurs in February. However, one of the translators the government is looking to hire is for French.

Tim Mercer, clerk of the legislative assembly, said that the government is looking to hire translators to have on call when they decide what path they'll take in a number of initiatives they are reviewing.

"We will be having new members in the coming year," he said.

"And we want to make sure we give them an option to use their language if they choose to."

Mercer said they hope to have translators hired in time for the February legislative assembly sitting.

"We will not necessarily contract the interpreters, but will call them when we need them," said Mercer.

"It's mainly to have our own list of interpreters."

Mercer couldn't say how much it would cost to employ a full compliment of translators. Mercer said that if the government decides to broadcast translated sessions, it could begin as early as next August.

The government is looking for translators in French, Tlicho, Chipewyan, Cree, Gwich'in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun, Inukitut, North Slavey and South Slavey.