“One hundred thousand welcomes” is the Gaelic phrase that we were taught when I was 9 years old, my first summer of 6 years at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s along with my sisters, my three daughters, and hundreds of my Highland Dance students.
Needless to say, I was shocked to read in Sunday’s Chronicle Herald about eliminating Highland Dance and Bagpiping. As a member of the “MacDonald Hundred Pipe Band” that was one of the many Pipe Bands Opening the Canso Causeway, in 1955, I cannot believe that the new administration thinks they can raise the profile of this institution by eliminating the core curriculum that was successful for 73 years.
My grandfather, John C. MacMillan one of the first founding board members of the College along with many other local businessmen worked very diligently to build this fine institution and bring the culture of Scotland to “New Scotland” – Nova Scotia for 73 years. That mainly includes the Gaelic Language, Highland Dancing and Piping.
Having been a board member in the 1980s, I recommended that Stepdancing be brought to the curriculum when Leonard Jones was the Executive Director as this is one discipline that is included in some of the Highland and National Dances of Scotland. Within a few months the new administration feels they can take this Legacy away? Do they not realize that the popularity of the College is mainly due to the former students who are now Dance and Piping Teachers all over the world (my 3 daughters and 10 former students included) and they promote the college and send their students there for Workshops and/or Competitions. The Pipe Band is a former World Champion of Piping!
Let us not let this happen. The Gaelic College which we know and cherish must carry on with the basis on which it was founded.
Kay Batherson (former student, teacher and Board Member of Gaelic College)