“We loose colour and diversity”\\
Some of the most popular concerts at Celtic Connections festival are the concerts by Gaelic singers.
Jeremy Dutcher, was awarded Canada’s Polaris Music Prize in 2018 for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Dutcher, an indigenous artist from New Brunswick, performed in the Wolastoq language
This year at Celtic Connections 2019, as part of 2019 Unesco International Year of Indigenous Languages and to give artists space and time to interrogate how Scotland and Canada’s shared colonial histories manifest within contemporary creative practice.
Jean Cameron in her article, ‘How our Scotland-Canada collab is celebrating indigenous languages’ writes about how she looked at Scotland’s colonial past after working with artists at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games cultural programme: folk who scrutinised Scotland’s imperial history. …..The Indian Act brought in by Macdonald in 1876 resulted in 100,000 indigenous Canadian children being forcibly sent into the residential school system that removed and isolated them from the influence of their homes, families, languages, traditions and cultures. For too many, these schools were sites of colonial violence where children were subjected to sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the people supposed to “civilise” them.
Support from Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government in Canada and The High Commission of Canada has enabled us to bring 15 or so artists together, including Kanyen’kehaka (Mohawk) curator Greg Hill from the National Gallery of Canada; Kevin Loring, the first artistic director of indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre of Canada; Scottish composer and former Young Gaelic Ambassador of the Year Pàdruig Morrison; author Donald S Murray and creative producer Seona McClintock.
“Let us remember why they are smaller and fragile: often due to oppression, cultural imperialism and economic disconnection. These themes will undoubtedly emerge during this exchange. It’s vital to remember language adds colour and tone to life, place, belonging and perspective. If we lose any, we lose that colour and all that it reflects. Nuances and idioms shape us, some words don’t translate, they are untranslatable.”
Language makes us who we are and there is renewed interest in both Scots and Gaelic. Tellingly for the course of the British power in Ireland (the DUP) continue to fight against the acknowledgement of the Irish language, even while original Scots/Irish settlers there spoke Irish Gaelic. In the past century Scots culture was portrayed by an out of touch caricature – of Donald wheres yur troosers, bagpipes and the White Heather Club dancers.
The European project on the other hand values all its regions and understands that EU success depends on the health and diversity of all its constituent parts and the remotest regions and small farms are sent decent grants and support.