Friends of IBBY Profile

Q&A with Friend of IBBY Canada: Hélène Duguay, Volunteer Newsletter Translator

IBBY Canada is able to deliver its projects, programs and communications because of volunteers from across the country.

As out-going newsletter editor, I am thrilled for the opportunity to thank a friend of IBBY Canada — Hélène Duguay, from Sorel-Tracy, Quebec — who has been working on newsletter translations for the past two and a half years.

During my time as newsletter editor, I was always so appreciative of her generosity that extends beyond IBBY to have included volunteer commitments with Scouts, Girl Guides, Big Brothers and Sisters, Canadian Auxiliary Coast Guards and Relay for Life for cancer research.

Q. How did you get involved with IBBY?

A. I was introduced to IBBY by a dear colleague, Shannon Babcock, while working at Quebec Reading Connection, a website dedicated to book suggestions for English or ESL teachers.

As much as I love working with picture books, I was amazed to know that there was an organization that brought books and refugee children together through the Readers and Refugees program. I was curious about the types of books that could ease the pain of leaving your home and possessions under difficult situations. At school, I was also involved with a few immigrant children that needed extra tutoring to learn French.

Another colleague, Danièle Courchesne, was working on a translation of the newsletter and was questioning the best choice of words to best represent an idea and I offered my help.

Q. Do you recall a favourite article that you have translated? Or anything that you found particularly interesting?

A. I clearly recall the interest I had in translating Deborah Ellis’ speech from the 2018 IBBY Congress in Athens about the connection between compassion, resilience and sustainability. She finished by saying that fear builds walls while stories build bridges. I vote for stories, too!

I also enjoyed the various authors and book descriptions related to the From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books catalogue, and learning that Julie Morstad had won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for Bloom, a book we had just read in class and enjoyed so much with my grade 6 students.

I get to learn something great every time I translate an article and often end up with a few new books for my book list.

Q. How does volunteering fit in with your professional work?

A. I have been an English as a second language (ESL) teacher for the last 30 years. Over the years, I have worked at the Quebec Ministry of Education on elementary ESL programs and especially on the Quebec Reading Connection website where I had to choose the best picture books and write activities for developing language. What a great job!

Besides teaching ESL to grades 1, 3 and 6, I am also an ESL consultant for elementary and secondary ESL teachers at my school board. I am responsible for helping them develop the best teaching practices, supporting them and offer training so they can become the best teachers they can be. I also get to suggest a wide variety of picture books!!! For the next school year, I will be adding a new hat as ILSS consultant (linguistic, social and school integration for immigrant and refugee students). A great new challenge!

Q. Are you now back at work in school? How is that going?

A. We have been back in class since May 11th. We have around 10 students per class, sitting two metres apart… a little far for talking about the ideas we get from books.

Our school year theme this year was superheroes, so in a COVID year, I transformed my “writing a superhero story project’’ with my grade 6 intensive students — who have ESL nine hours a week — into a COVID-fighting superhero. They could fight the COVID problem of their choice: confinement, solitude, hunger, job loss, mental or physical health issues — or the virus itself!

Many thanks, Hélène, for your contributions to IBBY Canada! It is so appreciated.

For more information about volunteering opportunities, please contact your regional councillor.

Contributed by Patti McIntosh, Co-President, IBBY Canada

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