Raising Gaelic in Nova Scotia
Two Gaelic flag-raising ceremonies on Wednesday, April 27 marked the start of Gaelic Awareness Month in the province of Nova Scotia.
The first ceremony was for the city of Halifax and it took place in the Grand Parade at the heart of the city. Mayor Mike Savage and Councillor Tony Mancini joined Norma MacLean, President of Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Àrd-Bhaile (the Halifax Gaelic society) and Beth Anne MacEachen, the Gaelic language teacher at Citadel High.
Members of the public, Citadel High Gaelic students, and adult students of Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Àrd-bhaile attended the flag raising:
A flag raising is a symbolic act of course. It’s significant to us in Nova Scotia to see a symbolic use of Gaelic in a public space, because in previous centuries, Scottish Gaelic was never allowed or welcome in public space in Halifax, in either written or spoken form. Even now, it’s scarce, and we are working on that all the time. (I’ve discussed that in a previous blog post as well.)
Peter Maxwell joined us for the flag raising and it was a privilege to meet him. He is originally from Marble Mountain, Cape Breton and his first language was Gaelic. Here he is with Melissa Shaw, the Gaelic Studies teacher and Gaelic program director at Citadel High.
When the city flag raising ceremony was over, it was time to walk down the hill to Province House, the home of the Nova Scotia legislative assembly, for the provincial flag raising ceremony. Rev. Ivan Gregan of Port Wallis United Church (my minister!) gave an opening prayer in Gaelic and English.
Multiple classes attended from a local elementary school with their teachers and the principal. The previous month, they had participated in a Gaelic milling project with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. They reprised one of the milling songs they learned with Mary MacLean of An Cliath Clis:
After the ceremony outside, we all went inside for a srùbag and a short performance by Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac (we are lucky to live in Halifax with such talented performers!)
This event kicks off a very busy month of May across the province, with a calendar full of Gaelic activities. In Halifax those activities include a series of free presentations at the Halifax Public Libraries. The events include the book launch for The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook on May 31st!