A five-day gathering for 25 Gaels of all ages to build community, plans, and a vision for a future of a stronger language and culture.

(Friday beginning at 3pm until Wednesday at 9am)

Scroll all the way to the bottom to see who's coming this year! 

Only 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14,13, 12, 11, 10 spaces remaining!

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Office of Gaelic Affairs

Fàilte oirbh!  Greetings friend!

Ciamar a tha sibh?

My name is Amber Buchanan and I've been helping organize and facilitate the Gaels Jams for the last two years.  (You can read more about me and why I love Jams below)

If you're reading this, then my guess is that you have attended a Nova Scotia Gaels Jam in years past, or at least heard all about it.  

I bet you care deeply about Gaelic language and culture, or maybe you're someone who hasn't thought about it much, but you know it's a part of your heritage, or there is just something about it that draws you in.  It feels special to you.    

Maybe it has touched your heart in such a way that it will be a part of your life forever.  You have worked very hard to learn the language, songs, stories, tunes, and dance because it is in your blood and spirit; it is your birthright.  You wish you could speak Gaelic every day in as many areas of your life as possible.  Maybe you are curious about other people who are drawn to Gaelic, or maybe you just want to learn more about it.      

You not only do this for yourself but also teach and pass these gifts on to others.  But, maybe, you're scared you're not doing enough, or you're worried that your efforts won't be enough and you're not exactly sure how to be most efficient.  And you're not sure how you 'fit in' to the Gaelic scene (and maybe are worried that you don't). Maybe you're not sure how to balance traditional values in a modern world.

And so . . .

It is our honour to invite you to apply to participate in the third annual Nova Scotia Gaels Jam!  

What is the Gaels Jam?

The Jam project began in Northern California in 1999 as a reaction to stuffy mega-conferences where participants sit and listen to speakers and plenary sessions all day. The intention of the Jam project is to bring together young leaders from around the world for a week of interactive community building and learning from each other. 

Since then, it has spread to dozens of countries and communities (e,g, Latin America, Brazil, Toronto, India, Thailand and the Middle East to name just a few) and become a diverse, intergenerational event. 
In much the same way musicians jam music, participants jam on ideas and projects. You can learn more about the project here.

The Gaels Jam event will connect 25 diverse, engaged and committed leaders from across Nova Scotia’s Gaelic community and a few from outside it, for a week of deep listening, sharing, self-discovery, systemic inquiry and community building with a group of talented facilitators including two young Gaels from Nova Scotia; Amber and Shay.

Why the Gaels Jam?

Many members in the Gaelic community have families, hold full time jobs, and do a large amount of volunteer work connected with Gaelic language and culture.  This doesn't leave a lot of time for community leaders to connect on a deeper level, and have meaningful discussion about what we're all working towards.

Some of the questions that will be touched on are:

  • what is the vision of the language and culture we're holding?
  • what are all of the roles it will take to make it happen?
  • what are the divisions, hurts and misunderstandings in the community that need to be addressed?
  • what new project ideas are there out there?
  • what other communities might be partnered with to help our visions happen?
  • how do we help our children absorb the language so Gaelic will be strong in our homes and communities? 

Who is the Nova Scotia Gaels Jam for?

As mentioned above, we seek to bring together Gaelic community members of all ages. By providing childcare, we plan to have our children on site at the Jam this year. It will be a truly intergenerational event!  

If you speak Gaelic and/or have a strong interest in the language, culture and heritage, please contact us at gaelsjam (at) gmail (dot) com for an application form to attend the third annual Nova Scotia Gaels Jam 2015. 

We could be a match made in heaven if:
  • You live in Nova Scotia.
  • You want to feel proud of the accomplishments you’ve made with Gaelic.
  •  You want more people to take such a passionate interest and learn to speak the language.
  •  You find yourself wishing you had more time and energy to devote to being involved in the language and culture.

We have a special place in our hearts for Gaels who:

  • Honour you passion for your culture, even when it is not ‘practical’
  •  Continue to speak and/or teach Gaelic (even when you feel discouraged or defeated)
  •  Work hard on your Gaelic even though some people still say "What job will you get in Gaelic"?
  • Love to soak up a room full of Gaelic singers

We are looking for a range in:

  • leadership (from ‘person on the ground’ to ‘director and founder’);
  • years of experience (from ‘just starting out’ to ‘been at it for a while’);
  • learners, teachers, speakers, singers, fiddle and pipe players, dancers, story tellers; and
  • any expression of Nova Scotian Gaelic cultural identity.

What you will get when you attend:

  • Five days with like-minded Gaels who are passionate about the community and culture.
  • Updates on projects, brainstorm new ones, discuss what's most needed in the community and what you have to offer.
  • A safe space to speak from your heart and be truly heard and appreciated.
  • A place to dream and discuss ideas for the future.
  • Some pretty amazing memories with some of Nova Scotia's finest.
  • Very possibly, a special evening cèilidh open to the larger Gaelic community.


This will be a dry event (meaning no alcohol or substances used during the course of the event). Because we're wanting to come together to create community and talk about the future of our community in an intentional way a clear headspace is needed to make sure the space is safe for everyone.  We are asking everyone's cooperation in honouring this. Thanks in advance for your cooperation and commitment in this. We are sure there will be many excellent parties after the jam is done.

 How Much Does it Cost to Attend the Jam?

We are very excited and happy to bring such an event to the Nova Scotian Gaelic community and recognize that the cost of this event may be more than some of us can pay right now. We don’t want money to be a barrier to your participation, and we have encouraged people to pay as much as they can towards the cost per person ($625).   

To make up the difference, we are trying very hard to fundraise as much money as possible, and with this we are able to provide some tuition breaks for 75%, 50% and 25% of the cost of tuition.

We have noticed that some people feel a resistance to paying less tuition for various reasons. We’d like to address these concerns one by one, in the hope that this might help you find some clarity in making the best decision for yourself (and, of course, we hope that decision is that you come to the Gaels Jam with us).

“I feel uncomfortable paying less than full tuition”: We want to acknowledge that we understand and respect various economic situations, that our economic situations are often in flux, that we live in a place and have an economic system that can make it difficult to earn a sufficient living.  We want to reassure you that we feel honoured to be able to offer tuition breaks to enable  people to attend.  This is done without judgement and without a need for explanation of your financial circumstances.   We feel confident that people will respect and understand the cost of putting on an event of this caliber and that people will be honest about what they are able to pay at this time.  We welcome you to apply to the Jam regardless of your financial circumstances.

We never, ever want money to be the reason someone isn’t able to attend. Plus, who knows where you’ll be next year! You might be doing so well financially that you can pay for your entire space and sponsor someone else. Money comes and goes; our financial situations go up and down. But community lasts, and our extending support here isn’t charity, it’s the way a community works. Today, we can help you, but maybe next year we’ll be the ones needing the help.

“But others might need it more!”: If you want to come and you can’t afford to pay the whole amount, we want to support you. Let us worry about making sure we have enough for everyone and you just get yourself to the Gaels Jam.

“There are others who deserve to be there more!”: We disagree. No one deserves to be there any more or less than anyone else.  We each have gifts and talents and treasures to contribute to the community. Sometimes, it can seem like our gifts don’t matter or that everyone else’s gifts are more important. We can promise you that the very people who you think are so much more deserving of being there will be looking at you at the Jam thinking you are so much more deserving of them. This is a dynamic in so many communities and certainly in ours. If you’re feeling this, it’s all the more reason to come so you can hear how much your gifts and who you are matters to others. The bottom line is that we want you to be at the Jam with us and the fee is not an obstacle. So come!

A breakdown of the costs:

If you’d like to see how the money is being spent, please check out our most current budget (we are updating it regularly as we get more information). The entire cost of the Jam is approximately $22,000. here.

Just a bit about me

Amber Buchanan, Organizer & Facilitator 

I'm a Gael from the North Shore of Cape Breton.  

I have been working with and teaching Gaelic in a variety of capacities over the last seven years in the province.  I've worked at the Highland Village MusuemColaisde na GàidhligAn Drochaid Eadarainn, Mira Road Elementary and most recently I'm acting as a mentor for one of Na Gaisgich Òga.  I helped organize and facilitate the 2013 and 2014 Gaels Jams and feel honored and excited to help organize and facilitate of the 2015 Gaels Jam!

I’m passionate about yoga, community, human rights, Indigenous and women’s rights, Latin America, language, culture, local and organic food and sustainable living.  What I’m most excited about right now is co-homeschooling my daughter Sadie bheag with her two friends and neighbors.  I’m also part of an exciting new alternative media collective called the JB McLachlan Media Collective.  I feel that my current studies of Political Science and Gaelic at CBU help me integrate my passions while bringing me to a better understanding of the crazy world we live in through critique of the dominant political and economic structures that have shaped our history into the present.

After attending a World Jam in Chaig Mai, Thailand with Tad and Shilpa as well as the North American Jam in California, I felt fully inspired and excited to help bring our Nova Scotian Gaelic community together in this way.  

I believe Jams help build a culture of inclusivity and connection in a beautiful and creativity way.  Part of what I love about the Jam is it values each and every one of us, recognizing we all have valuable gifts to give to our community.  Some of the work we do at a Jam gives us tools that assist us to work through difficult times as well as conflict as inevitably they arise.  Not only this but a Jam helps create and solidify bonds so that we can count on each other for support in all the work that we do. 

The icing on the cake is being in a room full for Gaels for five days of hanging out between sessions, singing, dancing, playing music and telling stories along with lots of laughs! 

Who is putting on the Cape Breton Gaels Jam?

The Jam is being organized and facilitated by the dynamic team below:


Kathleen Reddy Outreach Coordinator

Born in Sydney, NS, and with family roots in Cape Breton and Antigonish counties, Kathleen was aware as she was growing up that Gaelic was the language of her heritage. She began learning Gaelic as a student at St.FX. She then enrolled at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland where she qualified as a Gaelic teacher, going on to teach in schools and colleges in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. An important part of her time in Scotland was the years she spent living in a Gaelic-speaking community on the Isle of South Uist.

In Nova Scotia, Kathleen has taught immersion courses in the Halifax area and at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton, as well as Ùlpan courses. She also has served as an instructor and adjudicator for the American Scottish Gaelic Society. In addition, Kathleen has worked as an administrative assistant for the Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs. Most recently, she has been employed as the Gaelic instructor at St.FX.

Kathleen’s interest in Gaelic language, history, spirituality and culture also includes writing creatively in Gaelic and English and research into areas such as Gaelic calendar customs, proverbs, Gaelic saints, holy places and prayer traditions.

Tad Hargrave Organizor & Facilitator 

Tad is the founder of the Jams project (back in 1999) and is a Gaelic learner from Alberta who learned his Gaelic in weekly classes in Edmonton. After three years, he moved to Nova Scotia where he studied Celtic History at St. FX in the big city of Antigonish. It was there he met Amber and many other members of the Gaelic community in Cape Breton. He followed up his time in Nova Scotia with five months at Sabhal Mor Ostaig the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Years later, he co-starred in the second Gaelic film ever made in Canada - Ruidhle an Fhidleir.

In his other worlds, he helps run an Edmonton network called The Local Good which helps connect and celebrate good things in town and runs his own business called Marketing for Hippies. You can read more about him here.
Shay MacMullin Participant Liaison & Facilitator

Shay has often been referred to as the "poster child" for the Gàidhlig aig Baile teaching style for having learned her Gaelic so quickly!  If you find yourself at a Gaelic event somewhere in Nova Scotia, chances are Shay will be there, speaking Gaelic to you whether you speak it yet or not.  She is a dedicated and passionate activist for the rich culture of Nova Scotian Gaels.  She loves to sing, tell stories and share language.

Her work includes speaking Gaelic at home to her three children, teaching adults and children through the GAB methodology, and volunteering with community organizations committed to promoting Gaelic among Nova Scotians.  As the Co-ordinating Research Assistant, Shay was a integral player in the creation of a terrific online resource, a virtual gathering place for Gaels to experience the richness of Nova Scotia Gaelic language and culture as it was expressed, and continues to thrive, in various regions of Nova Scotia based on chain migration settlements.

With her passion and intuition, Shay's ability to share language and inspire is something cherished by the Nova Scotia Gaelic community.  She currently instructs GAB sessions for Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Ard-Bhaile as well as providing language coaching through private lessons, in person and online.  Shay has facilitated for a variety of Gaelic events including Cruinneachadh nan Taoitearan and Bun is Bàrr.

Shay's dream is to live in rural Nova Scotia on a small farm where she and her family can be self-sufficient and enjoy the truly precious things in life - connection to nature, community and spirit.
Shilpa Jain Organizer & Facilitator 

Shilpa is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!.  YES! works with social changemakers at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal and systemic change, and aims to co-create a thriving, just and balanced world for all.  Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist withShikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles,  and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet's Challenge to SchoolingReclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual.

Shilpa has facilitated dozens of transformative leadership gatherings in India, Jordan, Senegal, Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand, Canada, Peru, and the US, working with hundreds of young leaders from over 50 countries. She was founding coordinator of the Global Youth Leadership Collaborative, a network of 15 Jam facilitators from 14 countries that has collectively produced dozens of international gatherings for young changemakers, and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to small-scale grassroots social change innovations worldwide.

Many years ago, Shilpa made the decision to leave the trappings of academia, Washington, DC, and the path of “professionalism” that had been laid before her to live and work in greater alignment with her soul's calling. Today, she sees her work as contributing to the deep healing of internal, interpersonal and systemic breakdown. Shilpa is committed to using very simple human technologies – like listening, speaking from the heart, slowing down, breathing, and connecting to nature – to support authentic relationships, a deeper sense of self, an essential shift in consciousness, and aligned living practices. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.

You are invited!

Our team would like to welcome you to apply for the Jam. Feel free to share this info with others in the province 
who may be interested.  And do not hesitate to contact us at gaelsjam (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

With best wishes and love,

Amber, Shay, Tad, Kathy and Shilpa

A video taken from the 2011 World Jam held in Thailand that Tad, Amber and Shilpa attended. Give it a watch - as it will give you a bit of the spirit for the event we're working to create. Each event ends up having its own focus, tone and flavour.


A video of the India YES! Jam 2012

Reflections on the 2014 Gaels Jam from the Participants 



"Filled with inspiration and togetherness while providing lots of time for quiet reflection as well, my hopes and expectations for the gathering were met and very much exceeded. Shilpa Jain, and her very capable team of facilitators (Amber Buchanan, and Shannon MacMullin) worked with great intelligence and heart to effectively deliver this amazing opportunity for us to come together to bond and celebrate our cultural wellbeing whilst also offering deep strengthening and healing for as individuals and as a community too as we shared at times about our mutual concerns and difficulties for the future of our culture. I feel that this Jam existing as a yearly event is absolutely imperative in supporting a bright future for Gaels and Gaelic culture in our very special part of the world." --Mary MacGillvray, PEI 

"This was my second Gaelic Jam, and as a result of having some idea of what to expect, the experience was all the richer and deeper. Because a number of the activities and concepts were familiar to me from the first Gaelic Jam, I was able to really reflect on their significance to me and on my responses to them. I loved having the chance to build on prior relationships but also to make new connections with new participants. The Renewal Centre was a spectacular site at which to hold the Jam, given its location in the heart of Gaelic Cape Breton and its beautiful grounds overlooking Mabou. The Jamoffers such a potent means of building a Gaelic community because it brings many potential leaders together in an intimate event that is driven by the belief that positive change is possible and within our power to effect."  -- Heather Sparling, Sydney, NS  

"The Gaels Jam has been a life changing experience for me. The feeling of acceptance and friendship that I have received from everyone involved has been amazing. I have learned so much about myself throughout this experience, and I have made friendships which I will always treasure. I am so grateful for being able to attend the jam." - Robert Novak, Ontario

"The 2014 NS Gaels Jam was a truly transformational experience for me. The format proven and rock solid. When you add in the calibre of people common to the Gaelic community the effect on language renewal can't be denied. I retuned to my everyday life with renewed vigor and a confidence previously foreign to me. The effect the jam had on me was deeply profound. My work, personal relationships and the Gaelic community as a whole are now benefiting from a much more happy individual... And on happiness you cannot put a price." - Patrick Bennett, Dartmouth

"The Nova Scotia Gaels Jam has provided a wonderful opportunity for members of the younger generation of the Nova Scotia Gaelic community to better know each other. The bonds of friendship and understanding between participants that have grown out of the last two Jams are integral to the health of the Gaelic community in Nova Scotia. I believe that anyone active in Gaelic language and cultural activities in Nova Scotia would greatly benefit from attending a Jam. There is great potential for community renewal in this movement." -- Kathleen Reddy, Antigonish 

"An extraordinary, transformative time, both on an individual and social group basis, where voices are truly heard and some for the first time. I highly recommend such a valuable opportunity to anyone, as it is far too rare that we gather, concentrate, and evaluate our lives and our worlds. Thank you for leading in what I hope will remain an annual gathering of the Gaels." - Margie Beaton

"This was a gathering unlike any I had attended previously.  It fostered a great spirit of unity and respect between participants. Though the work was not always easy, with activities that challenged participants to break free from their comfort zones, the reward was a certain sense of growth and acceptance.  Though I have known many participants for years, I feel like I got to know them on a deeper level as a result of the Jam.  It was reassuring to see we all face similar challenges with regard to our involvement with Gaelic in Nova Scotia. The week stimulated new ideas and strengthened bonds between young Gaels in Cape Breton." - Anonymous

Reflections on the 2013 Gaels Jam from the Participants 

Emily MacDonald

"The Cape Breton Gaels Jam of 2013 has enabled me to consciously seek out common ground with others as a means to grow and learn in our communities. I was humbled by this experience and I am grateful to have been able to attend."


Joyce MacDonald

(Joyce ni'n Scott 'ic Fhrang 'ic Ruari 'ic Sis)

“I was hoping I’d get some ideas about what to do next and that has been completely fulfilled. I’ve made new connections and deepened existing relationships. This has been a really special time for me. I’ll never forget this time and I believe it will help me make healthy and positive changes in my life.”


David Rankin 

(Daibhidh mac Iùid ’ic Iain Ghilleasbuig ’ic Aonghais Dheirg ’ic Dhòmhnaill) 

“The Cape Breton Gaels' Jam was easily one of the most enriching experiences I've had as a member of the Gaelic community - and that really says a lot as being a part of the Gaelic community is so enriching in itself! I felt drawn in and connected to our community in a way that I want for all young Gaels. It's an experience that we need, and I think this program, if continued, will continue to be the starting point for some real movement in community building and Gaelic language / cultural development." 

Beth Anne MacEachen

“The Jam definitely broke down walls whether perceived or real.  It helped to foster the comfort to use Gaelic in both work and social settings.”

Brittany Rankin

(Bríghde ni’n Iùid ’ic Iain Ghilleasbuig ’ic Aonghais Dheirg ’ic Dhòmhnaill NicFhráing)

“I have a much deeper love and understanding of each person here, and I know that these friendships will last a lifetime.The direction I want to go in now is clear . . . forward! This experience could never be more than it was, and it was amazing, scary, fun, humbling, and overwhelming! Now I am just overwhelmed with love, trust and respect . . . for myself, and for each individual here.”

Kenneth MacKenzie 

“One of the most lasting things I’ll get from this weekend is that if i ever have that feeling that something offensive or divisive in the community happens to me, this weekend and these people will come to mind and i feel as if the strength of those memories will prove incredibly powerful and will provide the ability to look past divisions, straight to understanding and opportunity. 

I want to bring the ideas I learned here to all aspects of my life, This is what life should be, and I’m often trying to tweak my own ways of thinking or dealing with things to make life more meaningful.

So thank you for bringing so much of that to you. And also for making Gaelic the medium for that happening. Or the reason anyway.”

Jenny Cluett 

“I feel a great sense of calm and for once feel like I am a part of the gaelic community here. There is much work to be done but i will leave here tomorrow with a greater sense of support.”

Kathleen Reddy

"The 2013 Jam offered an opportunity to spend time getting to know other young Nova Scotian Gaels better. Often my work involves meetings and teaching where the state of Gaelic and connected issues are discussed, but there isn't much of a chance to speak honestly and openly at a personal level. The Jam provided a venue for these types of conversations to take place in in a way that everyone could be heard and all contributions were valued. For Gaelic to continue to move forward in Nova Scotia, I think gatherings like the Gaels Jam are essential."

Alison Etter  

“I was thinking recently about how peace, safety, and comfort aren’t enough in life. Growth and giving seem to me to be two of life’s great gifts. But many times they need to be sought, intentionally, courageously. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey together.”

Dawn Beaton 

"I loved that I got to spend time with people I care greatly about, people I admire and look up to and that alone is something to be happy about.  I loved that I hit my intention, on the post-it note on the wall - to grow and heal.  It was a journey, and I'm glad I made it."

A.J. Fraser 

“You gave me community where I didn’t know there was one. Getting to the heart of cultural suppression allows us to acknowledge where there is damage, pain and division and opens the possibility of renewal and evolution.”

Heather Sparling

“I have tools to engage in more meaningful, respectful and compassionate conversations - whether those are in the Gaelic community, my work life or my personal space.”

Patrick Bennett 

"Most importantly, the Jam connected me to other Gaels, Gaels my own age. The connection I made with them was so deep and meaningful that I firmly believe we will be friends for the rest of out lives. People I had known for years and considered close friends surprised me and helped me see that I hardly knew them at all. The community that the GaelJam built is invaluable and I would go to two a year if I could!  The only way to fully understand how powerful a experience it is, is to witness it first hand.”

Watch some videos of what the 2013 co-hort had to say about the event 

(some of the audio is so quiet so you might want to use headphones 

- and they need editing but they're still charming) 


Photos from Past Jams

Who's Attending This Year?

Keith Kennedy MacDonald 

Keith is a 25 year old from Inverness Nova Scotia. He is a teacher and musician currently working with Colaisde na Gaidhlig as a co-ordinator of its Extension Department. He is a piper and guitar player and enjoys playing all kinds of music. 

Eamag ni’n Rabairt `ic Eachainn `ic Eachainn Nìll Lodaidh

Emily MacDonald hails from and resides in ‘Glen of the Frogs’, Inverness County. Since attending the 2013 Jam, she has a new character in her life – her son Archie aka Gilleasbuig (Gihl-yes-bah), who makes life much more interesting and exciting. Emily and Archie have gone on many adventures over the last 1 ½ years, hanging off ice-covered cliffs with old Gaelic speakers and gabbing with some pretty amazing teens and tweens who are immersing themselves in the language. Emily is completely humbled and honored to be learning the language from her Bun is Bàrr mentor Anna MacKinnon and is grateful to be able to share the language with others. 

Kathleen Reddy 

Born in Sydney, NS, and with family roots in Cape Breton and Antigonish counties, Kathleen was aware as she was growing up that Gaelic was the language of her heritage. She began learning Gaelic as a student at St.FX, and has come full circle as she now teaches Gaelic at St.FX. That circle encompasses several years spent in Scotland, most notably living in a Gaelic community on the Isle of South Uist. Kathleen has taught Gaelic courses and workshops around Nova Scotia and further afield, and thinks it’s humorous that some believe Gaelic “won’t take you anywhere!”

Kathleen has a love for Gaelic language, history, spirituality and culture and seeks ways to integrate her Catholic faith and Gaelic traditions. She enjoys writing creatively in Gaelic and English and doing research in areas such as Gaelic calendar customs, prayers and proverbs. 

Nona MacDermid 

Nona was born in the MacDermid house built by her great-grandfather on the original MacDermid land grant at Wreck Cove. Nona’s older sister Amanda was turning 2 on April 27, and although she wasn’t supposed to arrive for another couple of weeks, the idea of a social gathering was too much to pass up, so she decided to change her plans and attend the ceilidh. Nona had the good fortune to grow up in a community that was still brimming with Gaelic.  Her Great Aunts and Great Uncles were all native Gaelic speakers so she heard Gaelic at home. Her Dad was also a fluent speaker and he passed some Gaelic along.  Mostly, her family passed on a love of storytelling as a social connection event. Nona’s Uncle Malcolm Angus was a member of the North Shore Gaelic Singers, but Nona learned to sing Gaelic songs from her beloved Auntie Mae.  To honour her passing ancestors and to reclaim her Gaelic culture, Nona took up studying Gaelic with the GAB method in 2004. By 2006, she produced the first Gaelic film in North America, Faire Chalium MhicLeoid, which has screened on 4 continents, been nominated for a Genie award, and is used as part of the curriculum in Nova Scotia schools.  Nona has since gone on to produce several other short Gaelic film projects, a Gaelic film festival, and a Gaelic Cultural Centre project which gathered interviews of several North Shore and North River Gaels. Nona has attended the Gaelic Media Festival in Scotland and Wales and the Inverness Film Festival. Nona continues to work on improving her spoken and written Gaelic so she can someday write all the stories in her head, sing some songs, and work most of her day in Gaelic. Each night and every morning, Nona wakes to the sight of a heart-sized stone from Croft 15 in Harris where the MacDermid Clan lived, loved, and sadly left; she remembers that her great great great grandfather’s hand held that stone. 

Cailean Dòmhnullach 

Colin hails from the beautiful metropolis of Foot Cape, just outside of Inverness, and now resides in Goose Cove. Colin’s passion for the Gaelic language and culture has grown significantly over the last 10 years, along with his sense of identity as a Gael.  He has worked at Colaisde na Gàidhlig | The Gaelic College for the past three years and was hired on as Gaelic Director in May of 2014.  He has attended the Gaels Jam twice so far and is really looking forward to this year’s Gaels Jam.  Suas leis a’ Ghàidhlig!


Alison Etter 

Alison is an ordained minister in The United Church of Canada, serving at Greenwood United Church, Baddeck; St. Andrew’s United Church, Baddeck Forks; and Middle River United Church. She is the chair of the United Church’s Inverness-Guysborough Presbytery Christian Life and Growth committee and the chair of the Hospice Society of Victoria County, and she is involved with ecumenical work in Baddeck through the newly-formed Baddeck Inter-church Council. She enjoys working with people of all ages including children and elders. She likes reading, writing, and singing. Alison became interested in Gaelic in 2003 while studying music at the University of Ottawa and soon learned more about her Gaelic ancestors who lived in what was then Red Head (now Beinn Bhreagh) just outside Baddeck. She has studied Gaelic in many community classes and most recently has been studying with Catriona Parsons. She is excited to be able to occasionally lead worship and deliver sermons in Gaelic. She is a member of Gàidhlig Agam in Baddeck. 

 Heather Sparling 

Heather is a music professor at Cape Breton University, where she researches Gaelic song and traditional music and dance while also teaching a variety of academic Celtic music and dance courses. She recently published a book about puirt-a-beul called *Reeling Roosters and Dancing Ducks: Celtic Mouth Music* (2014). She is interested in examining how music can be used to help with Gaelic language revitalization efforts. She has been learning Gaelic since 1994, when she took her first class in Edinburgh. Since then, she's studied in Scotland (notably at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where she spent a year), Cape Breton, and Toronto. She's taught Gaelic in Sydney, Toronto, and at the Gaelic College. She's also the Chieftain (VP) of the Cape Breton Gaelic Society.

Joyce MacDonald 

Joyce is a Gaelic learner/speaker/teacher from Centreville, Cape Breton. Her Gaelic teachers and mentors include Margie Beaton, Carmen MacArthur, Bernard Cameron, Mary and Vincent MacKinnon, Shay MacMullin, and her own grandmother, Jessie MacDonald.

Joyce has worked for the Gaelic College and the Inverness Oran. She writes, she sings, she acts in plays and she always has some sort of project on the go. 

Lewis MacKinnon

Tha Lodaidh ag obair aig Iomairtean na Gàidhlig ann a’ Riaghaltas na h-Albann Nuaidhe.  Tha e ’g obair gus taic a thoirt gus cànan agus cultur nan Gàidheal an Albainn Nuaidh a leasachadh agus a chompàirteachadh a-measg luchd-taic nan Gàidheal agus  na coimhearsnachd ’s an fharsuingeachd.  Bidh e trang leis an obair aige agus a’ mhórchuid dhen àm, tha e air a bhith ’na rud tlachdmhor a bhith ris an obair dhen t-seòrsa seo.  Tha e ’seinn gu tric agus a’ cluich a’ ghiotair agus bidh e ri bhàrdachd ’s a’ Ghàidhlig a h-uile an dràsd’ is a-rithist.  Thàinig e ’mach leis an treasa leabhar bhàrdachd aig’ as t-fhoghar sa chaidh.  ’S toil leis a bhith a’ leughadh  mu eachdraidh, chulturan, chànanan, dhaoine eachdraidheil, chath-innleachd, chreideamhan agus spioradalachd.  Tha e ’bruidhinn ceithir chànanan gu math agus tha beagan eòlais aig’ air iomadh cànan eile.  ’S toil leis eich, coin (o chionn ghoirid), beòthaichean na coille, obair a’ bhaile is na coille.  ’S e a bhith a’ togail cuideim an eacarsaich as fhèarr leis as motha.


Monica Regan

Monica is 19 years old from Whycocomagh Nova Scotia. She is a first year St. FX student studying Arts. Her main goal is to major in Celtic Studies and receive a job in that field. She really loves the Gaelic culture and hopefully one day be able to speak fluent Scottish Gaelic. Monica would also love to be able to live and study in Scotland! For the last three summers Monica has worked at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's. She really loved those summers and the experiences of working there has taught her a great deal of history and language associated with the Scots. Asides from Gaelic related interests, Monica also enjoys football and spending time with her dog, Angus. Monica attended Dalbrae Academy from 2010-2014 where she received several academic awards, safety training as well as a member of the SHOW (Students Helping Our World) committee and of the Techsploration team.

Robert Novak 

Robert is from Mississauga, Ontario and he hopes to one day live in Cape Breton. He is currently pursuing a Major in History and a Minor in Celtic Culture at Cape Breton University. He realised how much he enjoyed the Gaelic language after attending his first Gaelic immersion weekend at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's. He is currently learning to play the Scottish Highland Bagpipes, and hopes to learn to step-dance as well. He is particularly interested in historical ships, historical European military uniforms, and historical re-enactments. This will be Robert's second Nova Scotia Gaels Jam, after greatly enjoying the first Gaels Jam he attended last year. He hopes to be able to eventually teach and conduct research regarding Celtic history, and be able to give back to the Gaelic community. 

Kyle Kennedy MacDonald 

Kyle is a fiddler from Inverness and recently moved back to Cape Breton after several years studying at St.FX and living in Halifax. He is a musician and teacher with an interest to gain a deeper competency with Gaelic. Kyle is a coordinator at Colaisde na Gaidhlig for the Extension Department promoting Gaelic cultural involvement through school visits and community outreach. 

Mary MacGillivray 

Mary is a Holistic Nutritionist and Singer Songwriter who loves all things wellness related and cares deeply about her connection to her East Coast Celtic roots. Raised in Cape Breton and PEI, Mary feels a passionate commitment to the preservation and sharing of the Gaels culture. She is currently studying Scots Gaelic and is developing a number of wellness related initiatives while caring for her two young children in her birth province of PEI. 

Frances MacEachen 

Frances is program officer in Gaelic Affairs and manages the Gaelic Language in Community Program which funds community organizations,  and the Bun is Bàrr Mentoring Program. Before working with the provincial government she was editor of the quarterly journal Am Bràighe, which ran from 1993 until 2003. Creating Am Bràighe was a way for Frances to move back to rural Cape Breton, where she was raised, and provide a much-needed voice for Gaels, their language, culture, music, tradition and history. She lives in Little Judique with her two children, Lili and Angus. 

Beth Anne MacEachen

Beathag Anna nic Ghreagoir ‘ic Ruairidh Eoghainn ‘ic Mhicheil Phadruig ‘ic Eoghainn ‘ic Alasdair Mhoir ‘ic Eoghainn, is originally from Howie Center, Cape Breton but currently lives in Halifax. Her MacEachens are from Glendale and Airsaig, Scotland previous to that. She has a BA in Celtic Studies from Cape Breton University, a BEd from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and a Certificate of Higher Gaelic from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Scotland. In addition to teaching Gaelic through out the HRSB and at Citadel High in Halifax, Beth Anne teaches Gaelic at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton and privately via Skype. Teaching and learning keep her very busy and she can often be seen zooming around on either side of the pond. One thing she enjoys the most about her involvement in the Gaelic community is seanachas, a togetherness that happens when people come together to learn, share and have a laugh.