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REF NO.: 72

SUBJECT: Memorial research assists in health care delivery for Innu patients

DATE: Nov. 14

Innu translators, interpreters and other professionals working in the health-care system in Newfoundland and Labrador now have access to a new resource, one that aims to improve the experience of Innu patients.

The Innu Medical Glossary is the result of a collaborative effort spearheaded by Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie, a professor of linguistics at Memorial University.

Published by Mamu Tshishkutamashutau-Innu Education Inc. (MTIE), a glossary of more than 1,200 medical terms, translated into the two Labrador dialects of Innu-aimun, is now available as a printed book as well as a mobile app that includes audio recordings for each term.

The Innu Medical Glossary marks the culmination of a three-year collaboration between MTIE, Health Canada, the Social Health Department of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, the Innu Language Project (ILP) of Memorial University, the Algonquian Language Collaborative Digital Infrastructure Project of Carleton University and numerous community collaborators, including interpreters and health professionals from Labrador.

Continuing the work started under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded Community-University Research Alliances project, Knowledge and Human Resources for Innu Language Development, which ran from 2004-09 under the direction of principal investigator Dr. MacKenzie, the mandate of the ILP – also led by Dr. MacKenzie – has been to work with Innu schools and community organizations in Labrador to provide language resources. The team is thrilled to have had the opportunity to create this resource and to make it easily accessible and portable for anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

This translation tool marks a significant movement towards bridging the gap in communication between Innu patients and health-care providers in the province.

“This medical glossary is an important step as we move into a new era of community and health development,” said Jack Penashue, director, Social Health, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation. “I hope it will also help to promote understanding and be of assistance to both the medical community and the Innu.”

The new glossary provides translations for health conditions, diseases, procedures and medical affixes. It includes two sets of 32 diagrams of body parts and systems, each labelled in English and one of the two dialects of Innu spoken in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. The glossary also includes an explanation of the more complex terms in plain English. Audio recordings on the app make it possible for Innu patients to listen to the translations spoken in their own dialect and for health-care providers to become familiar with Innu pronunciations.

Bob Simms, former director of operations, Labrador Health Secretariat, First Nations and Inuit Health at Health Canada, was involved in encouraging the initial funding application.

“This Innu Medical Glossary will be an essential tool for improving cultural awareness, advancing health services and the ongoing evolution of community wellness support for the Innu people,” he said.

Copies of the book have been distributed to translators, interpreters and various members of the medical communities in Labrador and St. John’s. The book can be purchased by contacting the ILP at innulang@mun.ca and the app (for iOS and Android devices) is available as a free download on iTunes and Google Play.

For more information or to download a PDF of the glossary, visit the ILP website: www.innu-aimun.ca/english/specializedvocb/health.

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For more information, please contact Dr. Marguerite Mackenzie at mmackenz@mun.ca  or (709) 864-3391.

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