Woman in business attire with her arms crossed wearing a mask at the end of a boardroom table. Another group of people gather around the end of the table.

Translation & Interpretation: Tools for Tackling COVID-19

Est. Reading Time: 5min
Category: Interpret, Translate
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
By: Rana Hamodah

Dealing with a New Normal

Well, we made it to August; 2020 has been quite the year so far. Just as soon as we celebrated the start of a new decade, we all had to pivot and adjust to a “new normal” as the coronavirus changed our lives and introduced the world to unprecedented times.

Almost every nation on earth has been affected as COVID-19 has swept around the globe. Many countries have dealt or are dealing with quarantines and lockdowns which might look different depending on the country or area of the world you reside in. Some countries have been successful in containing the spread of the coronavirus while others have suffered great losses and some areas around the globe are now (August 2020) dealing with record numbers of positive coronavirus cases.

Read more: 4 Reasons Why Error-Free Translations Are Important

The Virus has Had Real Effects On Our Lives

Whether it is losing a job, a cancelled wedding, no graduation, a postponed surgery, having no home to call your own, an exploding domestic violence situation, being ill or even losing loved ones to the virus, no matter where you are, many of our loved ones have been affected in a number of ways.

How Calgary is Reacting to the Virus

Here in Calgary, the city has recently passed the Face Coverings Bylaw making face masks mandatory. As of August 1, 2020 everyone in a public indoor area and/or a public vehicle is required to wear a face mask. The City of Calgary’s reason behind this bylaw is that with businesses reopening, more social interactions, and the number of cases increasing in Calgary, these measures will better prevent a potential resurgence being experienced around the world.

Of course, there are many opinions about this bylaw and the requirement to wear face masks when in a public indoor area. There are many sides to this debate, and we can sympathize with many of these sides. However, when looking at the big picture of governments trying to protect their citizens it is not hard to get behind this requirement. To protect the vulnerable we have to work together and help our municipal, provincial and federal governments in protecting each and everyone within their communities.

No matter where you land on the mask debate, it’s imperative that everyone have the opportunity to understand the bylaw. Translation and interpretation can help reach each community within the city and communicate the new regulations to non-English speaking residents.

Read more: How translation can bridge the gap between immigrants and their children

How Newcomers can be More Vulnerable

One of the examples of a group who face other challenges than just dealing with the virus itself are newcomers to Canada. It can be hard to reach everyone due to language barriers and it highlights the importance of effective communication of necessary information to all communities. Across Canada, community organizations, advocates, researchers and health workers are filling gaps in information about COVID-19 in languages other than English.

One of the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada took place here in Alberta, at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River.

Cargill employs many members of the Filipino community in Alberta and the need for information and education regarding the virus was high in this case.

How Translators & Interpreters Helped During COVID-19

Alberta Health Services asked interpreters and translators for help in supporting the workers at the Cargill meat-packing plant. Many of the workers understood English fairly well, but some had more difficulty expressing their concerns in English, especially when it came to health and well-being.

Once they were able to speak Tagalog they opened up.

This was crucial in easing their worries and educating them about the proper ways of isolating themselves without putting their family members at risk.

The Cargill outbreak is a good example of the importance of effective communication and navigating the ins and outs of another culture made easier with the appropriate understanding of the language that is used to communicate in the new communities.

Want to connect with your employees in their language? As Canada’s leading translation service from coast to coast, we are here by phone or email.

Adjusting Without a Pandemic

Even without a global pandemic and the fears that come with it, culture shock and isolation can create some other big challenges for newcomers to Canada. Local social service agencies offer programs that are aimed at helping newcomers through the settlement and integrations process. These agencies offer services like counselling, which can range from counselling that focuses on overcoming day-to-day challenges to family, youth and senior counselling aimed at helping to develop coping skills.

Read more: The Cost of Translation Services

Pandemic or Not, Access the Services You Need

Now, during COVID-19 times, quarantines and lockdowns and rapidly changing rules and laws, these services are more important than ever and we can help!

Our certified translators in Calgary can translate legal documentation needed to access these programs for families and individuals or documents that are aimed at educating the general public about changes and new regulations.

Our certified interpreters can accompany individuals on their appointments with representatives of social service agencies or medical appointments. During uncertain times such as the one we are currently experiencing, these kinds of support in overcoming language barriers can ease many worries and can assist in ensuring that all communities in Canada can stay safe and healthy while having access to important information.

Need support accessing services in Canada?

Read more: Professional interpreters at the courts during refugee hearings

About the author

Rana Hamodah

As a migrant to Canada, Rana understands the challenges newcomers face and how access to information can help ease the transition.

Her two Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Literature and Translation paired with her Masters in Education and her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy (EDD) at the university of British Columbia make her uniquely qualified in ethnocultural communications. She is a Commissioner for Oath and can administer oaths and take, receive, and attest affidavits, affirmations and declarations. Currently, she is also pursuing her Immigration Consultant Certificate.