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XpoNorth conference to feature transatlantic session on shared culture

Published: 22/03/2022

XpoNorth session in Gaelic will explore the cultural and economic links between Nova Scotia and Scotland.

XpoNorth panel to shine a light on Gaelic perspectives across the Atlantic 

As Scotland celebrates Seachdain na Gàidhlig, its first World Gaelic Week, XpoNorth is highlighting a transatlantic Gaelic session at this year's XpoNorth conference focused on the shared opportunities of language and culture.

Conducted in Gaelic, the session which is called ‘Shared Perspectives: Driving Culture Through Place', will feature businesses from Scotland and Nova Scotia exploring how our culture and places are indelibly intertwined, how this shared heritage has developed and changed over the years, and how businesses view this culture now. 

This shared heritage began more than 250 years ago, when one of the earliest groups of Highland settlers emigrated from Loch Broom aboard The Hector, and helped create Nova Scotia, New Scotland.  The ongoing flow of emigrants from the Highlands and Islands to this rural area of Canada, ensured that Highland and Gaelic culture became an integral part of their new home. Even that early ship the Hector has been an inspiration for music, literature and art. 

The panel discussion will bring together a varied group of professionals who use Gaelic as an everyday part of their work and will share their experiences from both sides of the Atlantic. Literature is represented by Emily McEwen-Fujita, former assistant professor of anthropology at Uni of Pittsburgh and Loyola and now president of Bradan Press in Nova Scotia (the publishers behind the Gaelic translations of Canadian classic like Anne of Green Gables and recently released the first graphic novel actually written in Gaelic rather than a translation), and the well known Gaelic author Iain Fionnlagh MacLeòid, who is also Managing Director of Cànan Graphics Studio and a senior staff member at the Gaelic college on Skye, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. 

Storytelling on screen is represented by Ealasaid MacDonald who is Director of Strategy and External Affairs at MG Alba, who deliver the programming for the Gaelic channel, BBC Alba.  A familiar figure in outdoor programmes on the channel, Coinneach MacFhraing, will also be taking part. As well as being a climber and runner, he delivers outdoor sports and activities to young people for Spòrs Gàidhlig. 

The panel will also feature a representative of the Gaelic College in St Ann’s, Nova Scotia, who in addition to running a museum, have a long tradition of helping people to engage more with the Highland heritage of the province. 

Panellists will discuss how place shapes and defines culture and how this creates meaning and value for communities and businesses, with language playing a significant part of that discussion. Like any minority language, Gaelic faces challenges, but is still an important part of many communities. A survey carried out by Young Scot in 2021 reported that around two thirds of respondents (66.8%) stated that they think Gaelic culture and heritage is very valuable, and around two thirds of respondents (65.9%) stated that they think the Gaelic language is very valuable. 

Iain Hamilton, our head of creative Industries and co-founder of XpoNorth, said: “This will be a fascinating panel session looking at perspectives of culture and creativity, place and community in the Highlands and Islands and Nova Scotia, and we are delighted that it will be in Gaelic. Increasingly there is a global demand for authenticity and real provenance, stories behind products and services that allow people to engage more and to have a greater understanding of place and where something comes from.  

“The session is very much focussed on what makes these two areas (H&I and Nova Scotia) special, the unique sound, colours and taste. This is an area where small businesses can truly compete with much larger companies – a unique offering and relationship with customers. We are pleased to be supporting the use of Gaelic and recognise the importance of nurturing the language. Gaelic is a unique and powerful opportunity for Scotland and we realise the value both economically and socially.” 

‘Shared Perspectives: Driving Culture Through Place’, will be part of the XpoNorth Conference which will take place on June 15-16.

 

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