By: Klaidi Shehi
As we wrap up 2022 and look towards 2023, MCIS wanted to look back at our CSR and social purpose initiatives that have aided so many individuals and communities in Canada. Through the MCIS Social Benefit Initiative (SBI) fund, MCIS has provided free language services for individuals, small organizations and fellow non-profit organizations who require language services but can’t afford them. This year we also continued our efforts of providing training subsidies for aspiring interpreters and translators. The funds we distribute through our SBI initiatives are the main drivers of our social purpose as we strive towards language advocacy in Canada and providing language services for the benefit of our communities.
What is the SBI Fund?
The MCIS Social Benefit Initiative fund (SBI) includes various aspects of advocacy, services and other activities aimed at improving access to critical information for people with language barriers. Since its creation in April 2022, the SBI has funded over 700 telephone interpretation assignments (totalling around 16,607 minutes), over 70 translation projects and 61 scheduled interpretation appointments. The fund has also aided in MCIS’ social purpose in advocating for improved access to critical information around health, employment, political rights, and legal services, as well as other fields and industries where language gaps exist. MCIS has grown our SBI every year through the contribution from external funding from government grants and but majorly through the for-profit side of our business, where we dedicate a portion of our earnings towards our social purpose initiatives and SBI fund.
SBI Projects in 2022
Our Social Benefit fund for 2022 saw several projects and initiatives take off within the areas of language advocacy and language service aid. Over $80,000 has already been spent on projects for 2022 (April through October 2022), which range from free translation and interpretation services to conference funding and other media projects. Below we wanted to highlight a few of the initiatives the SBI fund helped in 2022.
Language Advocacy Day
On Language Advocacy Day 2022 (LAD22), MCIS sponsored the Our Language Rights Canada Conference 2022. The conference was a great success and was supported by MCIS and the SBI fund, in addition to other organizations, to bring light to issues related to language and to help advocate for language rights in Canada. With the success of the previous year, including the inclusion of language access in the Ontario provincial electoral platform, planning for LAD23 titled “Our Language Rights Canada Conference” has already begun. The next conference is taking place on February 22nd and 23rd, 2023. This year LAD23 and the Our Language Rights Canada Conference will continue to focus on the crucial role of language education and storytelling in preserving culture and history while addressing the language barriers that exist in Canada and abroad. This marks the 3rd annual year of the conference that is run by the Language Access Coalition of Canada (LACC)*.
Launch of Humanitarian Support Line April 2022 –
We are allocating a portion of our Social Benefit Initiative budget to the Humanitarian Support Line in response to situations of humanitarian crisis like ones in Afghanistan and Ukraine. An over-the-phone interpretation line, a toll-free number to get free immediate interpretation services, is one component of this. With the help of this line, charities that help people in need can offer critical information and services in the languages their clients are most comfortable with. Through this initiative, MCIS ensures that refugees and immigrants from Afghanistan and Ukraine, and other countries affected by humanitarian crises can access the support they require.
Interpreters in Times of War
In June of this year, MCIS sponsored another event organized by LACC, the Interpreters in Times of War Panel. In this event, the virtual panel shared stories of interpreters facing conflict during war interpretation and the importance of staying connected to one another in times of crisis. The panel also saw the announcing of the Healing Voices – Interpreting for Survivors of Torture, War Trauma and Sexual Violence, a 9-module training manual that teaches participants about the more dynamic and sensitive parts of interpreting which MCIS also sponsored.
Rohingya Interpreter Training Cohort
This initiative focused on the advocacy surrounding language access for Rohingya speaking individuals in Canada and included interviews with Rohingya interpreter Zafor Alom and Rohingya activist Saifullah Muhammad. They discussed the challenges with settlement and issues surrounding language access and qualified Rohingya interpreters in Canada. MCIS sponsored many aspiring Rohingya interpreters with Professional Interpretation Scholarships, so they could enrol in the community interpreting program and the ILSAT to become interpreters. This initiative helps to plant the seeds to grow the network of Rohingya interpreters in Canada, as well as deepen the recognition of interpretation as an essential settlement service.
Pop-up Translation Clinic at the 519
This past November, MCIS ran a pop-up clinic at The 519, a city organization located in the heart of Toronto’s gay village that serves the LGBTQ+ communities. Although MCIS has been providing free language services to individuals in need for several years, this pop-up represents one of the first times MCIS has mobilized translators and volunteers to offer free translation services to folks in an in-person setting. Our goal was to make translation services available to asylum seekers within this community.
SBI Fund for 2023
As we near the end of the 2022 SBI Fiscal, we want to look back to all these initiatives as well as several others, such as the Indigenous Community Project and the Afghan Interpreters Cohort, to acknowledge the impact that MCIS has had on diverse language communities and individuals in regard to language access and advocacy. Our work this year towards these activities as well as our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), has been recently recognized by SDG Cities on their website. MCIS will continue its work as a non-profit social enterprise by supporting and funding language advocacy initiatives and subsidized language services to ensure we make language rights human rights and help remove as many language barriers as possible, one step at a time.
“LACC is a grassroots coalition of agencies, organizations, institutions, and individuals advocating for equitable language access in Canada. The Coalition organizes events such as webinars, meetings with MPs and MPPs to discuss policy change, and celebrates February 22nd as the day of Language Advocacy in Canada”