Nova Scotia looks to revive its Gaelic culture

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's Office of Gaelic Affairs says the traditional Scottish language isn't dead - it's just sleeping.

The number of native Gaelic speakers in the province has been declining for decades.

See Full Article

But Frances MacEachen, a community development officer with the office, said organizations that promote Gaelic culture are helping to awaken a new generation's interest in their history, not unlike the province's Mi'kmaq and Acadian communities.

"They're not dead, they're sleeping languages," she said in an interview Monday.

The office has announced more than $40,000 will go to nine non-profit organizations for projects dedicated to the advancement of everything Gaelic, from playgroups to language immersion classes.

Its website says nearly one-third of Nova Scotians can trace their roots to Gaelic-speaking migrants who settled in the province starting in the late 1700s from the Islands and Highlands of Scotland.

MacEachen, who grew up in Cape Breton among Gaelic-speaking parents, said people of all ages are becoming increasingly interested in reclaiming that heritage and learning to speak the language.

But she admits not everyone appreciates the value.

"People do think we're trying to revive something that belongs in the past," said MacEachen, who speaks Gaelic with her colleagues in the Cape Breton hamlet of Mabou.

"But people who make those comments don't understand the interest in the language and culture and how it brings people together and how it attracts people to our province."

The office said census data indicates the number of Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia rose to 1,275 in 2011 from 890 in 2006. In 2011, 300 people identified Scottish Gaelic as their maternal language.

Later this month, more than 100 young people will descend on Englishtown, a small community overlooking St. Ann's Bay, to take part in language, song and drama programs at the Gaelic College. The institution bills itself as the only institution in North America that offers year-round Gaelic programming, including lessons in highland dancing, fiddle playing and weaving.

College CEO Rodney MacDonald said that for youth, understanding Gaelic culture is "about their stories, it's about their families, it's about everything from their faith to their sense of humour."

"I truly believe in my heart that had we done this 100 years ago, 50 years ago, the economy of areas of like Cape Breton Island would have been positively impacted," said MacDonald, a former Nova Scotia premier who created the Office of Gaelic Affairs.

"When people feel a connection to who they are and to their communities, they want to stay and they want to make a difference."

Though Gaelic is the founding language of Scotland - spoken particularly by the Highland clans - it originated in Ireland. Today, Scottish Gaelic is spoken in Scotland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Other Celtic languages include Irish and Manx, which is spoken on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.

Shay MacMullin, a language teacher and self-described Gaelic advocate, recently helped organize a two-week tutor-training and immersion program through the Whycocomagh and District Historical Society. The organization is among the nine to receive government funding.

MacMullin said her grandfather was a native Gaelic speaker who had no choice but to assimilate and speak English as a schoolboy in Nova Scotia. As a result, the language wasn't passed down.

The Gaelic culture is much more than just language, she said - it's songs, dance, stories and food.

"I really feel like Gaelic is my first language and I just didn't get it first," said MacMullin, 39, who learned the language seven years ago.

"All Gaels should have an opportunity to reconnect and reclaim their birthright which is speaking their language and recognizing their identity, and being able to feel proud of that."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Dieppe: Veterans return to site of Canada’s deadliest day in WWII

    Canada News CTV News
    More than 900 Canadian soldiers were killed in the French coastal town of Dieppe on August 19, 1942, the bloodiest day for Canada in the entirety of the Second World War. Saturday will mark the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. Source
  • Steve Bannon 'going to war' at Breitbart after Trump ousts White House Chief Strategist [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil. Source
  • John McCain completes round of radiation, chemo for brain cancer

    World News CTV News
    PHOENIX -- The daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona says the 80-year-old lawmaker has completed the first round of radiation and chemotherapy as he battles an aggressive form of brain cancer. Meghan McCain also tweeted Friday afternoon that her father's "resilience & strength is incredible. Source
  • U.S. denies Alberta man's request to visit sick mom with brain tumour

    Canada News CTV News
    A Canadian permanent resident is hoping for a miracle after the United States rejected his request to visit his ailing mother, who is suffering from a brain tumour. Alan Arellano grew up in San Diego, where his mother Theresa still lives. Source
  • Lucky loon sought out Alberta campers to save it from fishing gear

    Canada News CTV News
    NORDEGG, Alta. -- This is a story about one lucky loon. Don Gibson was standing with his family on a dock in Fish Lake Provincial Park in west-central Alberta last weekend when he noticed a normally standoffish loon -- one of a group of five that call the lake home -- swimming toward them. Source
  • Photographer faces $185M lawsuit over photos of underage ballet dancers

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    They were aspiring ballet dancers who travelled from Toronto and cities across Canada to realize their dreams at the renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. But in a proposed $185 million class action lawsuit filed by Sarah Doucet of Toronto on behalf of her fellow underage students, she alleges they were coerced into posing for lurid photos by teacher Bruce Monk who then sold their images online without their knowledge or consent. Source
  • Canadian killed in Barcelona terror attack identified as PM confirms four others injured

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed one Canadian was killed and four others were hurt Thursday when a van plowed into crowds of tourists on a popular street in Barcelona. Trudeau is offering his condolences to the family members and friends of those injured. Source
  • Dark day at Dieppe remembered 75 years later

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    There has never been a worse — or bloodier — day in Canada’s long, proud military history than Aug. 19, 1942. Seventy-five years ago today, 5,000 Canadians, accompanied by 1,000 British commandos and a handful of U.S. Source
  • Billionaire investor Carl Icahn steps down as Trump economic advisor

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has lost another informal adviser from the business world: billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who gave the White House guidance on its deregulation efforts. Icahn said in a letter to Trump released Friday that he is stepping down to prevent “partisan bickering” about his unofficial role that Democrats suggested could benefit him financially. Source
  • Jihadists behind Barcelona terror attack

    World News Toronto Sun
    Moussa Oukabir was a “good boy.” Now, he’s toe-tagged in a Spanish morgue ventilated by police bullets. If not the mastermind behind the heinous slaughter of innocents in Barcelona, the 17-year-old has become the face of the ISIS cabal behind it. Source