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Interpreter finds meaning behind the words

Karen Mackenzie
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 27, 2007

CLYDE RIVER - Geela Tigullaraq is a busy woman of words in Clyde River, a full-time interpreter at the local health centre who translates for a handful of organizations on the side.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Geela Tigullaraq is a busy translator in Clyde River. - photo courtesy of Geela Tigullaraq

The hard-working, single mother of three has spent the majority of her life in the hamlet, although she lived in Nanisivik between 1980 and 1987, while her grandfather worked at the mill.

As an adult, she travelled to Iqaluit for the two-year language and culture program at Nunavut Arctic College, graduating in 2000.

"I think the biggest thing I learned during that time was that if you want to get anywhere in life you can't be afraid in life," she said. "I was so scared to move out of here for two years - Iqaluit is a big city - but I pulled through."

Besides the health centre, Tigullaraq regularly translates for the RCMP, the court when it is in session in Clyde River and the local school board, among other things. She does both simultaneous and consecutive translation.

Through this work she is exposed to a number of new subjects every day.

"I think that's what I enjoy the most about it - you always get to learn new things, different topics," she said.

One of the most meaningful jobs she does is to occasionally act as an interpreter for southern facilitators in healing camps run by the Ilisaqsivik Family Resource Centre.

"It's important for them (to have interpreters) but it's also important for me," Tigullaraq said. "I feel connected, not just interpreting, but really a part of the group."

And her skills are well-respected, according to Jakob Gearheard, Ilisaqsivik's co-ordinator.

"I really trust her as an interpreter," he said. "There's a lot of stuff between languages - meanings of words or meanings of phrases - which can be missed if translated literally. She really understands that. She conveys meanings."

Looking forward, Tigullaraq said she would like to travel some more and to learn French.

"There's a lot of time," she said.