Sneak Peek 8: Jim Shearon

Translating and Interpreting for Refugees: The Ideal and the Reality

Jim Shearon

Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario

Abstract: When the Government of Canada decided to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees it issued a call for 250 certified Arabic to-and-from English translators or interpreters to interview refugees. ATIO, the second-largest organization of professional translators and interpreters in Canada, identified a total of nine certified Arabic translators or interpreters; less than five per cent of the number requested by the government. While Translation and Interpretation professionals were unable to respond in a time of crisis, uncertified–even untrained—translators and interpreters stepped forward and provided essential services to refugees arriving in Canada.

This presentation describes the experience of one refugee family with virtually no knowledge of English or French and the work of untrained Arabic speakers in helping them to adjust to their new home, emphasizing the role of cellphones as instruments of interpretation.

Bio: Jim Shearon, a certified translator from French or Spanish into English, is a published author and editor, and former radio broadcaster of sports events and music programs. Jim graduated from the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation in 2002. He is a former Secretary of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO), and a part-time teacher in the School of Translation.