Both Canadian members of FIT invited the Council to visit Canada during its 150th anniversary year. What better reason to visit this bilingual nation’s capital - Ottawa! (see dedicated press release for our visit to Montreal).
In line with the now established practice and principle of supporting local organisations wherever FIT travels, members of the FIT Council arrived one day prior to the annual face-to-face meeting, participating in activities benefiting the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO), the local member of the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC), which is a member of FIT.
The full day programme kindly organised by ATIO and CTTIC in collaboration with the FIT Regional Centre for North America (FIT RC NA) highlighted the best of Canada and is the first official visit of the FIT Council to Canada in the last decade.
The day began with a formal welcome of the FIT Council by the local host Marielle Godbout, President of ATIO, who highlighted the important role ATIO played in the professionalisation of translators, interpreters and terminologists in Canada’s bilingual landscape, and showcasing the number of Canadians who contributed internationally, and especially to FIT, in its nearly 100 years of proud history, from its previous incarnation as the Association technologique de la langue française to the present day.
President Golnaz Aliyarzadeh of CTTIC then welcomed the Council on behalf of the all the Canadian provinces it represents and emphasised the federal and collaborative nature of the CTTIC in line with FIT principles. President Liu responded by thanking the host association for its continual support in FIT endeavours, and in particular, the leading roles Canada plays in bilingualism/multilingualism, standard setting, community interpreting and terminology practice and research.
A series of visibility events then ensued, including a full morning of presentations from the Translation Bureau of Canada, which is responsible for handling all matters related to translation, interpreting and terminology for the organs of the Canadian government. Much has changed and many directors have passed since the last time FIT visited. It was therefore particularly encouraging to meet with the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Translation Bureau, Mr Adam Gibson, who led a strong delegation highlighting the importance of bilingualism and increasingly multilingualism including American Sign Language (ASL) and the Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). He further stressed that professional translation, interpreting and terminology are essential instruments in maintaining and ensuring genuine democracy and citizen engagement across Canada. Acting CEO Gibson acknowledged the challenges the Bureau has faced, some of which are specific to Canada but are mostly common in any big bilingual/multilingual organisation. He therefore stated the importance of collaboration. The ensuing discussion brought into focus the importance of collaborating with professional associations and training institutions in Canada, while maintaining international links to ensure keeping in touch with best practices around the world, one of the key benefits of FIT membership.
Following the presentation of this overview of the publicly funded translation scene in Canada, the FIT Council was given a presentation of the latest in terminology management. There are few countries in the world, and only a small number of regions in the world, that place so much importance in terminological research and incorporate it into the day-to-day practice and process of translation and interpreting. Canada is indeed a champion in terminology.
Following this enlightening presentation and in-depth discussion on the way terminology is managed in Canadian public institutions, the FIT Council was invited to lunch with the Ottawa Tourism Office and, thereafter, a comprehensive site visit by the FIT Investment Task Force of one of the possible venues of the 2020 Congress - the Shaw Centre.
Following this visit, the Council walked across pristine snow-covered paths to the campus of the University of Ottawa - where the only Masters in Interpretation is taught - where we were welcomed by the Director of the School, Professor Jean Quirion. Following an introduction noting the importance of collaboration between the University of Ottawa and professional associations, and the kindest introduction from President Godbout of ATIO, FIT President Dr Henry Liu gave a one-hour lecture to staff and students of the University of Ottawa in addition to friends and the wider public under the auspices of the FIT Regional Centre North America. Despite the glorious weather outside and the fact that it was St Patrick's Day, nearly 100 students and staff attended the Friday afternoon seminar.
The seminar highlighted the risks of unsupervised or minimally supervised automation and therefore the heightened importance of professional translators, interpreters and terminologists in understanding the underlying principles of automation and in a disruptive, hybrid language services landscape.
After the conclusion of the seminar, ATIO and CTTIC hosted a welcome dinner at Les Jardins de la Cité Restaurant where future leaders of Canadian gastronomy are trained. The Ontario Minster responsible for Francophone Affairs - the Honourable Marie-France Lalonde - was going to be the guest of honour at this dinner but had to cancel at the last minute. Similarly, despite most sterling efforts, a number of engagements had to be cancelled at the last minute, including the courtesy call with the Governor-General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett and the Mayor of Ottawa, Mr. Jim Watson.
President Liu and the FIT Council would especially like to thank the Presidents of ATIO and CTTIC, ATIO executive director Mr Philippe Ramsey and the Chair of the FIT Regional Centre for North America, Michel Parent, and our North America Liaison, Council Member Alan Melby of ATA for making this visit so successful.