Maritimers celebrate Scottish roots on Tartan Day
HALIFAX -- Tuesday marks National Tartan Day in Canada – a chance to celebrate the country's Scottish roots.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage officially declared April 6 as 'National Tartan Day' in October of 2010. The date was chosen because it corresponds with the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in the year 1320– the Scottish Declaration of Independence.
James Machattie is the director of education at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts in Summerside, P.E.I. He says he lives each day by staying close to his Scottish roots.
"When people leave their homeland, they tend to bring their traditions with them and they tenaciously grab onto them," said Machattie.
Tartan is synonymous with Scotland. Leah Aspinall, the manager at New Scotland Clothing Co., in Dartmouth, says tartans are always a big seller at their shop.
"I think the Nova Scotia Tartan is recognizable to many people," said Aspinall.
Aspinall says,not only is Nova Scotia Tartan popular with Nova Scotians themselves, but with people who simply have family and friends living in the province.
Sherrie Kearney is the co-owner and creator of Maritime Tartan Company – a Halifax-based company who creates handmade tartan products.
To date, Kearney has produced 21,000 reusable masks made from tartan. She says, based on her experience, Maritimers with Scottish roots are proud to show where they're from.
Following the Nova Scotia mass shooting in April 2020, the province's premier called on Nova Scotians to proudly display their tartan as a sign of support for the tragedy the province had just witnessed.
Even the head coach of the NHL's Dallas Stars, who is originally from Moncton, N.B. but grew up in Halifax, wore a Nova Scotia Tartan pin throughout the playoffs while leading his team to the Stanley Cup Final.
"We are very strong people, we are close-knit people," said Rick Bowness, in a TSN Ottawa radio interview in May 2020.
After the shooting tragedy in Nova Scotia, Machattie says he wanted to help in any way possible.
"It's just across the water from here (P.E.I.). We are brothers and sisters to Nova Scotia," said Machattie.
The Government of Prince Edward Island asked Machattie to play the bagpipes as a tribute to Nova Scotia following the shootings.
"It was an incredible honour to be asked to do it and it was hard to go through doing it," said Machattie.