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Medical interpreter misses Taloyoak

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 4, 2011

IKALUKTUTIAK/CAMBRIDGE BAY - Annie Buchan recently left Taloyoak for Cambridge Bay, but is still pursuing her career in the vital art of medical interpretation.

NNSL photo/graphic

Annie Buchan, who spent almost 30 years interpreting for patients and community health workers, mostly in Taloyoak, recently relocated to Cambridge Bay to be closer to her family. - photo courtesy of the Department of Health and Social Services

In all, she has worked for the health department for almost 29 years, mostly as a clerk/interpreter.

"I wanted to become a nurse but my education ... I didn't have the necessary qualifications," she said.

Born in a camp at Fort Ross, a former Hudson's Bay Company trading post on Somerset Island, she was raised in Taloyoak and moved to Pond Inlet when she got married. She attended school for one year in Inuvik and two years in Yellowknife, completing Grade 8.

Buchan started working part-time as a clerk/interpreter in Pond Inlet in 1971, helping unilingual Inuit communicate with English-speaking health care workers. She then worked on and off with the territorial health department doing medical interpreting for community health workers. She worked as a clerk/interpreter in Taloyoak until she was rehired permanently as a medical clerk/interpreter in Taloyoak in 1982, a position she held until 2004.

She was rehired at a later date as a community health worker until she left the community Dec. 1. In Cambridge Bay, she again works as a clerk/interpreter.

While in Taloyoak, she was a councilor on and off and was involved with the Inniutiit Women's Association, a local women's group administering the women's shelter, She is in her last year of involvement with Pauktuutit, a national organization advocating for Inuit women.

"I like to be a voice for the Inuit women and children and elders. They don't seem to have a lot of voice," she said.

Living in Cambridge Bay she is now closer to her son, daughter and four grandchildren.

"It's a bigger place and they are very, very, busy here, compared to a small community where I come from," she said. "It was sad to leave. It's my third time leaving Taloyoak and ... I keep coming back. It's hard to leave your birth town - for me anyway.

"It's a good thing we're with the family. We feel we want to be closer to them. Our grandchildren are growing up now. "

Nattilik MLA Jeannie Ugyuk acknowledged Buchan's contribution to Taloyoak in the legislative assembly before her move to Cambridge Bay.

"We will miss her in Taloyoak due to her largess in assisting the residents of Taloyoak," stated Ugyuk at the legislative assembly this past Nov. 1. "You will be leaving a large void in our community, due to your dedication. Whoever replaces you in your position will have to fill your very large shoes."

Buchan appreciated the MLA's comment.

"It's kind of nice that people know your efforts to do good things in your community or in the society," she said.

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