The Gaelic way of liv­ing in the world

The Victoria Standard - - Culture / Heritage -

The pre­vi­ous col­umn re­flected a greater di­ver­sity of sur­name and home lo­ca­tion among the lat­est group in Na Gais­gich Òga, the Gaelic lan­guage and cul­ture pro­gram for young peo­ple be­gun in 2013. We found some di­ver­sity of de­scent—african Nova Sco­tian, Aca­dian, and from Bri­tish Home Chil­dren, most of whom were sent to Canada from Britain be­tween 1920-1970; at the same time, all the re­spon­dents so far dis­cussed also had Gaelic roots, whether dis­tant or within liv­ing mem­ory.

Last time, we noted some school­ing in­flu­ence in the form of Rankin School of the Nar­rows’ Gaelic classes. More re­cently, we have heard from fa­ther Ian of Cora Cameron (17) and her sis­ter Char­lotte (15) of Dart­mouth. Now in her sec­ond year with NGO, Cora de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in Gaelic at Ci­tadel High School in Hal­i­fax. A chief rea­son for choos­ing to at­tend Ci­tadel (as an area trans­fer stu­dent) was her in­ter­est in her ‘Ir­ish-scot­tish’ ances­try from fam­ily his­tory re­search. Char­lotte, in French im­mer­sion from pre-pri­mary to Grade 5, heard great things from sis­ter Cora last year and de­cided to fol­low in her foot­steps, en­rolling this year in Gaelic. The fam­ily has con­nec­tions to Glen­garry County, On­tario, with its “strong Gaelic his­tory”, and Prince Ed­ward Co., Ont.

Ma­jor in­flu­ences for most of the young peo­ple have been long­time en­gage­ment in cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties and their as­so­ci­a­tion with the Gaelic Col­lege. Chloe Peter­son of Mid­dle River has been tak­ing classes/ses­sions there-weav­ing, step­dance, fid­dle, pi­ano, chanter, Gaelic-- since she was about six. Kather­ine Mac­don­ald of Lit­tle Nar­rows be­longs to a mu­si­cal fam­ily and, as a child, would per­form Gaelic songs with sis­ters Anita and Lau­ren; she, too, has taken drama and song classes at the Col­lege. Jessie Ever­ill (12), a High­land Dancer from Waver­ley, whose mother Carla is a Mac­don­ald, also de­vel­oped her in­ter­est in Gaelic lan­guage and cul­ture there, at­tend­ing ev­ery sum­mer since she was eight: ‘‘She has been in love with the place and the cul­ture ever since.’’ No Gaelic has been spo­ken in her fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions. A Goose Cove, C.B. res­i­dent, Ma­rina Ruther­ford (11), is the only NGO par­tic­i­pant we know of who has no known Gaelic her­itage; but after at­tend­ing her first Gaelic Col­lege Youth Camp this sum­mer, she found new friends and the “spark” to her in­volve­ment in the pro­gram.

Gaelic was the first lan­guage of Ciaran Mcdon­ald (11), Syd­ney. His mother, Dr. Heather Spar­ling, is an ex­am­ple of the grow­ing num­ber of those who have at­tained flu­ency in Gaelic and pass the lan­guage on to their chil­dren. His fa­ther Chris, an in­ter­me­di­ate learner, also par­tic­i­pated. When Ciaran went to French school in Syd­ney, how­ever, they stopped speak­ing Gaelic. Now his fre­quent im­mer­sion in Gaelic at the Col­lege helps him re-learn it—and he “loves it”.

So, from those par­ents who re­sponded, we have seen a va­ri­ety of in­flu­ences: Gaelic her­itage, some­times of a dis­tant na­ture but not for­got­ten, some­times more im­me­di­ate; Gaelic class op­por­tu­ni­ties in school; in­volve­ment in cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with Gaelic, most es­pe­cially the Gaelic Col­lege ses­sions. But no mat­ter what has drawn each young per­son to the NGO pro­gram, this was the re­cur­rent note: the ‘young he­roes’ of what­ever back­ground are lov­ing their Gaelic ex­pe­ri­ence.

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