Shay MacMullin (Seigheag ni'n Aonghais 'ic Iain Peadair 'ic Aonghais 'ic Iain 'ic Aonghais) is an old soul with a curious mind, generous spirit and special love of Cape Breton Gaels, their language and culture. With ancestors hailing from South Uist who settled in Upper Grand Mira, she always wanted to learn her grandfather’s language but didn’t get the chance until decades later when she attended Halifax immersion classes with Kathleen Reddy. She picked up the language quickly, and is a strong believer in immersion methodology. Through her Bun is Bàrr mentorship with Seumas Watson and Anna MacKinnon, Shay was introduced to the world of the Gaelic speaker and began learning songs, stories, community and family history. She loves anything local: songs, food, crafts, music, dances, plants, and dialects. She is making it her personal mission to revive the house visiting tradition in Cape Breton, and can often be seen kicking up her heels at square dances. Shay is a bridge for the learner into the world of the Cape Breton Gael and is a dedicated professional and passionate about sharing all she has learned with others. She has taken part in language workshops in Nova Scotia and Scotland (including a fishing derby in Barra), is a mentor in the Bun is Bàrr program and was project manager for the An Drochaid Eadarainn website. She holds immersion weekends and workshops throughout the province and has planned events such as a six-week immersion in Halifax, the Total Immersion Plus training held in Baddeck in February, and, along with her friend Emily MacDonald, A' Togail na Gàidhlig month-long live-in Gaelic immersion program held in Aberdeen, Cape Breton. Shay has family in Prince Edward Island and is looking forward to visiting her neighbours accross the Northumberland Strait (An Caolas Mòr a Tuath) to share her tremendous love for and knowledge of our region's Gaelic language and culture.
Lewis MacKinnon (Lodaidh mac Eòis 'ic Dhòmhnaill Fhiadhaich) is Executive Director of Gaelic Affairs, a Division of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Government of Nova Scotia. He was born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Lower South River, Antigonish County. As both a community member and now in his official capacity in the Province of Nova Scotia, he has been championing and working to transmit the Scottish Gaelic language and culture in his home province and beyond for decades. He is a Gaelic teacher, editor, public speaker, musician, songwriter, author, singer, and language and cultural activist. A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University’s Department of Celtic Studies, he completed his BA (1992) and MA (2011). The focus of his Master’s thesis explores the Gaelic language and culture in and around Inverness Town, Cape Breton Island as experienced, remembered and shared by members of his father, Joe MacKinnon’s family. He teaches via the TIP (Total Immersion Plus) method or as it is now called in Gaelic, Gàidhlig aig Baile. As a musician Lewis performs Gaelic songs on both the local and international stages, releasing his first solo CD titled A’ Seo (“Here”) in 2006. MacKinnon is also a celebrated poet, whose Gaelic poetry with accompanying English translation appears in Famhair: agus Dàin Ghàidhlig eile ~ Giant: And Other Gaelic Poems (CBU Press 2008); Fleodragan-cabair/Raft (2012) and Rudan Mì-bheanailteach is an Cothroman, Dàin : Intangible Possibilities, Poems (CBU Press 2013). In October 2011, he was honoured as the first non-Scot Gaelic poet laureate at the Royal National Mòd in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Lewis has frequently visited our province over the years to both teach and share his knowledge of the Scottish Gaelic language and culture in our region. He looks forward singing Gaelic songs from our region, reciting some his original poetry, and making connections with Islanders in order to strengthen the long-established ties between Nova Scotia’s and Prince Edward Island’s Gaels.
Emily MacDonald (Eamag ni’n Raibeairt 'ic Eachainn 'ic Eachainn Nìll Lodaidh) is as rooted as one can be in Gleann nam Màgan (“Glen of the Frogs,” known in English as Ainslie Glen), Inverness County, Cape Breton with a MacKinnon and MacLellan heritage going back to the Island of Muck and Morar. She was drawn in her youth to Gaelic language and culture and has taken advantage of every opportunity to explore, learn and teach. She has a Celtic Studies and Bachelor of Education Degree from St. Francis Xavier University and has focused on community-based education. A hard-working, well-organized self-starter, Emily began the Na Gaisgich Òga (Young Heroes) program at Colaisde na Gàidhlig, and was instrumental in getting a Gaelic playgroup going for parents and children in Inverness and organizing Finlay MacLeod’s Total Immersion Plus (TIP) training in Baddeck this past winter. Emily was a field worker for the An Drochaid Eadarainn website, was a mentor in the Bun is Bàrr program and most recently organized and instructed, alongside her friend Shay MacMullin, A' Togail na Gàidhlig month-long live-in Gaelic immersion program held in Aberdeen, Cape Breton. Emily enjoys visiting and speaking Gaelic with elders, especially with her three-year old Gilleasbuig.
Prof. Marlene Ivey, Chair of the Design Department and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Design at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, is a valued friend and supporter of the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead. She and her husband Seumas Watson provided integral support towards the success of last year’s Eilean an Àigh events and they subsequently presented and offered a workshop at the Homestead in November 2015, entitled, "Nàisean nan Gàidheal: Restoring Gaelic Identity and Founding a Gaelic Cultural Nation." Ivey’s and Watson’s innovative work reflects upon the current successes in Nova Scotia towards the renewal of Scottish Gaelic at the communal level through socially-driven cultural and language immersion and how such initiatives may be of relevance to Prince Edward Islanders. Her current professional and scholarly practice is footed in the Nova Scotia Gaelic milieu where she is collaborating with the Nova Scotia Highland Village Museum partnered with the Office of Gaelic Affairs, the Municipality of Victoria County, St FX University and the Nova Scotia Gaelic community to create An Drochaid Eadarainn (The Bridge Between Us) an interactive online social space (www.androchaid.ca) for Gaelic language renewal and cultural restoration. In April 2012 NSCAD President David Smith recognized Professor Ivey’s work with An Drochaid Eadarainn for academic excellence. Furthermore, Professor Ivey and her Cultural Restoration design students developed Léirsinn: The Exhibition, Léirsinn (layr-sheen) meaning perspective, insight, or vision, showcasing students' work created in 2015 for Nova Scotia's Gaelic Awareness Month.The primary goals of such pioneering engagement with local forms of language and culture, as Ivey and Watson note, is: “to highlight the pathways into the cultural idiom—an idiom that integrates language fluency with other domains of Gaelic expression such as music and dance, genealogy and the creative arts […] and in what way these pathways might serve to establish or ‘find’ identity.”