Celtic Language Beachhead in North America Shows 250% Increase in Gaelic Speakers

The Executive Director of Nova Scotia's Office of Gaelic Affairs, Lewis MacKinnon, has cited a jump in the number of Gaelic Speakers in Canada’s Maritime Province of Nova Scotia.  This is a stunning example of the revival of the Gaelic language in Nova Scotia which was home to 100,000 Scots Gaelic speakers in the late 1800's. The language suffered calamitous decline as a result of the Provincial Government's policy of banning Gaelic medium education in the Celtic language heartland of Cape Breton Island. 

MacKinnon cited an increase in excess of 250% in the number of Gaelic speakers based on a comparison of the most recent census figures versus the census of 2001.  Quoted on the website “The Herald”, Mackinnon stated: “In the last census, 1,275 people cited that they spoke Gaelic. In 2001 that number was 490.  I think (the increase is) a result of numerous programs and activities and efforts that have been made at the community level, the government level, efforts being made in public schools to offer Gaelic programming, including language, but also Gaelic studies.”  

From The Website of the Office of Gaelic Affairs:

Vision: Nova Scotians reclaim their Gaelic language and identity as a basis for cultural, spiritual, community and economic renewal.

Mission: To support Nova Scotians in reclaiming Gaelic language and identity by creating awareness, working with partners and providing tools and opportunities to learn, share and experience Gaelic language and culture.

Mandate: Gaelic Affairs contributes to the development of Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia, so the culture, wisdom, heritage and traditions of Gaels are valued, practiced, and passed on to future generations. It does this by:  Creating awareness of Gaelic language, culture and history and its contribution to Nova Scotia’s diversity, community life and economy, Working with partners in government, in the community and internationally in other Gaelic regions to strengthen Gaelic language and culture. Providing funding support to community groups engaged in Gaelic language and cultural projects,  Providing language training, support materials, innovative programming, strategic advice, research, translations and communications services to  enable appreciation, acquisition and use of Gaelic language and culture, Building partnerships within government to ensure investment in and stewardship of these language and cultural resources that are uniquely Nova Scotian.






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