Royal designation reignites historical tensions at Cape Breton Gaelic College
The battle over a name change at the Cape Breton Gaelic College in St. Ann’s is creating controversy in the community.
The college announced earlier this month that it is being honoured by Queen Elizabeth II because of its contribution to preserving Scottish culture in Canada and beyond.
The acting chair of the Gaelic College, Kirk MacRae, says the honour is a welcome one.
“It creates more awareness and things with the college,” says MacRae.
“It’s a designation that doesn’t come easy. It’s just an honour of name, it doesn’t take away what the goals are of the college and what the goals are of our instructors, students and staff, that is to grow the Gaelic culture.”
However, not everyone shares MacRae’s point of view. Allan MacMaster is the conservative critic for Gaelic Affairs. He says changing the name of the institution to the Royal Cape Breton Gaelic College is reminding some Gaelic speakers of past grievances.
“When we have an institute that is focused on telling people to learn Gaelic and being named with a term that connects it to an identity that has a strong role in the history of our people, of eliminating Gaelic, that is what is causing people to become upset,” says MacMaster.
But MacRae says a name is just a name.
“It doesn’t deter from the programs and the things we are trying to do there,” he says.
MacMaster feels the board should involve the community before making any final decisions.
“I think they should consult with the people before making a decision like this and there is always a chance to revisit it and I think they should do that now,” says MacMaster.
MacRae says the board of directors values public concerns regarding the name change, but says the Royal Cape Breton Gaelic College is here to stay.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore