Monday, November 7, 2011

Rita Larocque Morel

Translator, interpreter, pioneer franco-ontarian woman

Born in Ottawa in 1911; died in 2011.

One of the first franco-ontarian woman to study at the University of Ottawa (general arts). When she graduated, she was one of only two women in her class. At the time, she would have liked to study Greek or chemistry, but the priests did not allow her to do so because she was a woman.

Received medals in literature, French and swimming.

Developed her own system of symbols in order to get work as a stenographer in the public service (she had not studied stenography).

Worked for the Turkish embassy at the Château Laurier and the Bureau of Statistics before becoming a translator at Secretary of State, and eventually, a sought out oral simultaneous translator who could interpret from French to English, but also from English to French, thus translating both in her mother tongue and her second tongue.

Became Chief House of Commons translator. After her retirement, she freelanced as an interpreter well into her 80s.

Also did some volunteer work with former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar, helping refugees from Vietnam.

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