Isabelle D’Amour is the IWK’s bilingual nurse coordinator/infirmière coordinatrice des services bilingues. In this role, she coordinates language services at the IWK, including both interpretation and translation services. In addition, D’Amour interprets for French patients and families and acts as a liaison between them and their health care teams.
“I’m able to help these patients and families navigate their way through the health care system,” says D’Amour. “I think patients and their families appreciate having that consistent person to contact that understands them and is able to respond to their questions and requests in French.”
Through the French Language Services Act, French-speaking patients and families are entitled to receive health care services in French. This act is in place to contribute to the preservation and growth of the Acadian and francophone community and to provide for the delivery of French-language services by institutions such as the IWK. Many IWK team members, including D’Amour, will also wear a Bonjour! pin. The pin represents an active offer to show the public who is French-speaking and can offer services in French. This is one of several ways that care is delivered in French at the IWK.
“French-speaking patients and families should always ask if service is available in French or if there is a French-speaking professional available on their care team. At the IWK, we have many employees that speak French but if the care team doesn’t have a French-speaker, I can come to assist with interpretation and support the patient and family, as well as the team,” says D’Amour. “If I can’t be available, then French interpreters can be used free of charge.”
In both celebration of Acadian culture and French language, and in remembrance of tragic events impacting the Acadian people, August 15 is Fête national des Acadiens et des Acadiennes/National Acadian Day.
“I’m proud to be a French-speaking Canadian/Acadian because of its rich history and culture. French-speaking people have been very determined throughout the history of this country to keep their language and culture alive and that is something to be proud of,” says D’Amour. “Our culture and language are unique and make up a part of our identity which is why it is so important to preserve it.”