Hon. Jane Cordy:
Honourable senators, throughout Canadian history, there has been a strong relationship between Nova Scotia and its Gaelic heritage. In 1850, Scottish Gaelic was the third most spoken language in Canada after English and French. The longest-running all-Gaelic newspaper was published in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in the late 1800s. The publication ran for 12 years.
Although the popularity of Gaelic has decreased, its legacy can still be felt throughout Nova Scotia. Eleven schools in Nova Scotia offer Gaelic as part of their curriculum, and young Nova Scotians continue to be educated on the cultural importance of the Gaelic language.
Baile nan Gàidheal, the Nova Scotia Highland Village, in Iona, Cape Breton, is integral to preserving our Gaelic heritage. The Nova Scotia Highland Village Society was founded in 1959 to develop the village and to create a living history museum to interpret, preserve and promote the Scottish Gaelic language, culture and heritage as found in Nova Scotia. In 2000, the society entered into a new relationship with the Province of Nova Scotia, which resulted in the Highland Village becoming part of the Nova Scotia Museum family. The society continues to operate the site on behalf of the province.
The society’s vision is to grow as a Gaelic folklife centre that nurtures, communicates and celebrates the heritage and cultural identity of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic community.
In 2014, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society created the scholarship Stòras na h-Òigridh – Treasures of Youth. This scholarship is awarded to young Canadians who possess an interest in Gaelic traditions, including dance, fiddle, piano, language and storytelling. There have been seven winners to date ranging between the ages of 5 and 21.
In 2017, two $1,000 scholarships were presented to Katherine MacDonald of Little Narrows and Abagail MacDonald of St. Andrews. Both young women are talented pianists and have been very involved in the Nova Scotia Gaelic community.
Applications for the 2018 year are now available online and are due on April 30, 2018. This year, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society will be presenting three young Nova Scotians with awards, two valued at $1,000 and one for $500. With scholarships like the one from the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society, the importance of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage will not be forgotten.
Honourable senators, if you find yourselves in Cape Breton this summer, I invite you to visit beautiful Iona and make sure to visit Baile nan Gàidheal, the Nova Scotia Highland Village. Mòran taing. Thank you.