Translated in Canada: A brief interview with Inhabit Media


Last week I wrote a discussion, or an explanation, about how translated books get to Canada. It involved a lot of legalities and plain old money making.

This week I thought I’d go over how translations happen within Canada. Here in Canada we have two national languages (French and English) and a plethora of First Peoples’ languages. Books here are sometimes published in both English and French, depending on market research and whether or not it is viable to produce a French (or English) versions. There is one publishers that also publish in First Peoples languages, that is Inhabit Media. Inhabit produces beautiful books–whether they be picturebook or adult books they are all authored by First Peoples from Inuit, and they are all generally infused with rich images and/or illustrations.

Wild Eggs, available in English & Inuktitut

Inhabit media is a very localized and specialized publisher that caters to Inuit and it’s people. They produce works of such high quality and beauty that they have reached beyond their region and out to the rest of Canada–which is wonderful, and which enables them to continue producing their works. Publishers like Inhabit are certainly necessary and needed, but they fill a niche in terms of translation.

I reached out to Kelly Ward, Editor @ Inhabit Media to ask a few questions about their books and how they go about acquiring and producing translations.


  1. What language do your authors tend to write in? If you can answer, then I’d love to know, what language rights does Inhabit tend to buy and why?

It depends on the author. Some of our authors will write their original manuscripts in Inuktitut, in which case we translate into English, and some will write their original manuscripts in English, in which case we translate into Inuktitut (and possibly French, depending on the book project). Still other authors, who are fully comfortable writing in a bilingual context, will write their manuscripts in both English and Inuktitut simultaneously. In cases where we are translating into Inuktitut, the dialect of Inuktitut used for each publications is determined by the author’s home community.


  1. Do you do your translations in-house or do you use freelancers?

Both. Again, it depends on the book project. We have a healthy stable of freelance Inuktitut and French translators that we use, and we also have in-house staff who are capable of doing Inuktitut translation. It all depends on the circumstances of the project and the dialect needed for translation. All of our Inuktitut translations are carefully edited by our majority owner and Inuktitut specialist, Louise Flaherty.

  1. What is the rationale behind publishing in these three languages (French, English and Inuktitut)?

Inhabit Media has published books in English, French, Inuktitut, and Inuinnaqtun. We publish in all these languages to ensure that our publications serve all the linguistic communities of Nunavut as best they can. Ensuring that our books are accessible to as many Nunavummiut as possible is one of our driving forces as a publisher.

So, there you have it: How translations happen here in Canada. It is a careful process that is project dependent and still relies on all those legalities and the dollars and cents that I talked about last week.

A big thanks to Kelly at Inhabit Media, and if you readers haven’t checked out their works, please do, they are beautiful cultural artifacts that’ll add a whole new world to your bookshelf.