Joy For Nova Scotia! (21/02/07)

Joy Dunlop

The Nova Scotia community of Mabou is getting ready to welcome a Scottish Gaelic speaker as part of a project to rejuvenate the language in the once strongly Gaelic-speaking west coast of Cape Breton.
Féis Mhabu, a organization that promotes Gaelic language and cultural learning for youth and adults, selected Joy Dunlop, 23, of Connel, Scotland, to lead preschool and youth classes in Gaelic language and song. Ms. Dunlop will stay with local families while in Mabou from March until July.

“We see Joy’s arrival as an important step in building our ties with Gaelic Scotland,” said Bernadette Campbell, Chair of Comunn Féis Mhabu. “She will bring energy and enthusiasm and a strong Gaelic skill set to help us with Gaelic development in Cape Breton. At the same time, Joy will also gain valuable insight into Cape Breton’s Gaelic culture.”

The project is being facilitated by the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Nova Scotia and The Highland Council, an agreement that builds on the linguistic, kinship and cultural connections between the two areas.
It continues the work of another MOU project, Gaidhlig dhan Oigridh, in which Highland educators and their children set up Gaelic camps for kids in three Nova Scotia communities, including Mabou, last summer. More than 40 children and their parents took part in the Mabou program. Feis Mhabu saw the need to keep the interest going and advertised in Scotland for a volunteer to help them set up a youth program.

The Highland Council had been asked to help identify possible candidates for the job.  Vice Convener, Dr Michael Foxley congratulated Joy on her appointment.  He said:  “This is a fantastic opportunity for Joy and I am sure she will benefit greatly from the experience, as will the Gaelic communities which she will be working with.

“Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding we have been working very hard to successfully develop strong links between Gaelic speakers here and across the Atlantic and we are now able to see the hard work and efforts bring benefits to these communities.  Joy will be building on the success of last years Gaelic family learning project by using the interest and momentum created to set up two after school programs for children as well as working with parents to develop a pre-school program and taking an active role in community life during her stay.  This work will be vital to the survival of Gaelic in Cape Breton.

“When Lochaber hosts the 2007 Mod later this year we hope to take the opportunity to highlight the good work currently being done between the Highlands and Nova Scotia and celebrate our shared Gaelic language and different cultures at various special events.”

Joy, who currently works for An Comunn Gaidhealach said:  “This job is a fantastic opportunity for me as it gives me a chance to work in a vibrant Gaelic speaking community in Nova Scotia and to learn about their language and culture at the same time. I am hugely excited about going to work in Mabou and can't wait to experience life in their community. I am also extremely grateful to An Comunn Gaidhealach for allowing me to take this chance and for all their support during this process.”



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