The Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia would like to raise concerns with the recently-published Glaze report, “Raise the Bar.”

This report outlines in its mandate that it will “consider the cultural, linguistic, and geographic contexts of the Nova Scotia school system and current government priorities for public education.” In its foundational principles, it identifies student learning and achievement, equity and excellence, well-being, character development, and global citizenship. We believe that the inclusion of Gaelic and Nova Scotia Gaels in this report would strengthen these considerations and principles. We also believe that the lack of reference to Nova Scotia’s Gaels and the Gaelic language in Raise the Bar is a significant error of omission.

We have been approached by numerous stakeholders who have voiced their concern that there was no consultation with the Gaelic community in the preparation of this report, and there is no single mention in the report of Nova Scotia Gaels or the Gaelic language. In fact, the Gaelic Council did not even receive a consultation survey. We believe this raises major concerns for the future of Gaelic education in Nova Scotia.

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The four founding cultures as recognized by the Province of Nova Scotia, namely Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Gaelic, and African Nova Scotian, should have been consulted to achieve inclusion in this important policy initiative. The report listed consultation with two African Nova Scotian organizations, two French/Acadian organizations, and two Mi’kmaq organizations, and noted that discussions were held with school board members representing African Nova Scotians, Mi’kmaq, and Acadians. No Gaelic stakeholders were noted in the report.

In particular, we would like to draw your attention to the exclusion of Gaelic teachers in Recommendation 18, where the three-other founding cultural groups are represented: “Increasing diversity in teaching and educational leadership programs, particularly African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaw and Acadian teachers.” This oversight can be easily remedied by adding Gaelic teachers to the recommendation.

We acknowledge and appreciate the continued support from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for Gaelic language and Gaelic cultural programming. In 2015, Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education stated a commitment to “improve curriculum to better reflect Acadian, African Nova Scotian, Gaelic, and Mi’kmaq history,” and to “include the language, history, and culture of the Acadians, African Nova Scotians, Gaels, and Mi’kmaq.” As stakeholders, our community desires to be represented and consulted on the future of education in Nova Scotia.

The Gaelic Council asks the education department take steps to correct these oversights. Please advise how the department intends to work with the Gaelic community to ensure that our culture and language continue to play an important part in the inclusive nature of education in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia

David Rankin, Bill MacLeod, Colin MacDonald, Stephen MacDonald, Dawn Beaton, Kenneth MacKenzie, Brittany MacDonald, Ann Munro, and Glenn Graham