A small, inconspicuous office at the Université de Moncton’s satellite campus in Edmundston is working toward making the province a hub for translation in Atlantic Canada. The organization, known by its French acronym CIDIF, serves as a bridge between translators and their clients in New Brunswick and beyond.
“It’s designed to help translators do better. To permit four of five translators to work together on a single project,” said Michel Paradis, president and CEO of the organization.”And maybe if four or five translators work together they’ll form a company.”Together they can do the work they couldn’t alone.”CIDIF is also working with the New Brunswick government’s translation bureau to develop a database holding more than six million English and French words that will improve accuracy and efficiency. “The more words we’re going to have, the more efficient it’s going to be,” said Paradis.
Last year, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency invested $2.5 million in the organization to improve its online translation services. Prior to that, CIDIF already offered a unique consulting service that helps cater websites to specific cultural or regional audiences, while adhering to international guidelines.
For example, Paradis says, if you are targeting business in China, choosing a white background for your website would not be a good idea. The colour can be deemed offensive, he says. Now, with its new focus on translation, Paradis hopes the centre will one day become a multi-purpose centre for businesses seeking to expand online. Paradis says the non-profit project will be autonomous in three years, and he has big hopes for the future. “The technology and information sector – that’s where the money is.
“It’s one of the industries that can really help the province grow,” Paradis said. The organization employs only seven people, but aims to create jobs for many more through its online network. Paradis says there is a huge need for translators in the province, and CIDIF will help bridge the gap between demand and supply. Right now, there are about 200 certified translators in the province, but Claude Lapointe, executive director for Translation New Brunswick, a non-profit that promotes the industry, says work is available for many more.
About 80 per cent of translation in Canada is from English to French, creating tremendous opportunity for bilingual francophones in the province, Lapointe says. Lapointe says the biggest demand comes from the provincial and federal governments, but there is a growing demand from private industry. The foundations are all in place for the province to become a key industry player, Lapointe says, pointing to the province’s official bilingualism and contingent of bilingual francophones with the skills to translate from English back into their mother tongue.
The hope is that CIDIF will help launch the careers of young translators, but for the moment there may not be enough professional translators to make the project worthwhile. About 12 students graduate from Université de Moncton’s undergraduate degree in translation every year – and not all of them stay in the province after graduation. “Yes, it’s true, people leave – mostly for Ottawa. We would like to keep them here of course,” said Matthieu LeBlanc, director of the translation department. Having won a national translation competition two years in a row, the translation department has a good reputation; but LeBlanc says they still need to recruit more students. To help boost the number of translators Translation New Brunswick is trying to set up a two-year college training program as an alternative to the undergraduate degree.
The organization also recently launched a campaign to get the word out that translation can be lucrative – and interesting.”It can be exciting,” Lapointe says. “One day you’re translating something about the environment and the next day it could be political science, so it’s an interesting profession.”Paradis hopes that CIDIF can make the job more accessible for NB translators, and appealing, as well, for businesses that want to grow online.”We can dream a bit. Imagine if an entrepreneur can say, I know a place that gives us all in one,” said Paradis. “It would be a place that has knowledge of local culture and international regulations – and translates the documents.”