If you’ve noticed the Workers’ History Museum’s increasing French language presence over the past six months, it’s mainly due to this month’s Volunteer Spotlight. Although she has not been with the Museum for very long, Valérie Lalonde has already become essential to our work. Somehow she juggles raising two young children with helping us interpret blog posts, design exhibits, secure funding, and fulfill our mission as a bilingual institution. Enjoy meeting our translator Valérie Lalonde!
What is your name?
Valérie Lalonde, née Montpetit
Where are you from?
I was born in Loretteville, Quebec, and have been living in my current hometown, Rockland, Ontario, since I was a very young child.
What’s your primary occupation?
I’m an English-to-French translator and editor for the federal government, and a freelance translator.
How long have you been a Workers’ History Museum volunteer? Why did you join?
I joined the Workers’ History Museum (WHM) as a volunteer translator in July 2013. As the saying goes: practice makes perfect! I thus joined the Museum to gain valuable experience that adds another tool in my arsenal. By simply volunteering my time, I learn about events and people that have shaped our history, I contribute to preserving the heritage of workers, and I meet new people.
What project have you been involved in that you’re most proud of?
I haven’t been volunteering at the WHM for a long time, but within only a couple of months, I’ve had the great opportunity to work on projects that have produced tangible results, namely “The Cal Best Project” and the Museum’s first permanent exhibit. However, the project I’m most proud of would be the creation of a bilingual style guide. WHM members and I have established guidelines relating to grammar, usage and terminology, in both English and French. The style guide is to be used by anyone communicating on behalf of the Museum, and it also serves as a great tool for translators. I am grateful that the Museum saw value in creating such a document.
What’s the best thing about volunteering for the WHM?
The best thing about volunteering for the WHM is the strong spirit of partnership and collaboration that exists among all of its volunteers. It is that spirit that drives dedication and ensures the Museum’s success.
If you had a time machine and could visit any historical period, when would you choose?
I would choose to travel to the 1920s and land in my great-grandmother’s home. Becoming a mother has led me to wonder how women could raise 8, 9, even 10 children back then and keep a piece of their sanity. Being a homemaker in the 1920s had its own set of challenges, but was in no way easier than it is today. I’d like to know what she thought of motherhood, what were her ambitions and dreams, and if she would have liked to pursue a career outside of the home if she had had the choice.