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Mr. Lewis MacKinnon - Congratulations on Appointment as Scottish Bard


Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I rise today to give recognition to a Nova Scotian and friend of mine who is being honoured this day on the other side of the Atlantic.

Lewis MacKinnon, a native of Cape Breton who was raised in Antigonish, is a musician, singer, writer, poet, recording artist and published author. What is so unique about his talent in Canada today is that his singing and writing are expressed in Scottish Gaelic, the language of his grandparents.

For many years, Lewis MacKinnon served as the CEO of the Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs, bringing a passion and dedication to his work that few could equal. I realize that the existence of Gaelic in Canada is quite obscure to most people. With the decline in the use of the language during the 20th century, most Canadians today have very little knowledge of its history across the country. Few realize that it was the third most common language in Canada from the middle of the 18th century until well into the 20th century and, for most of that time, it was also the most commonly spoken minority language in what today would be considered English-speaking Canada. It survives today primarily in Cape Breton. Now the work of people like Lewis MacKinnon is finally being recognized.

Today, October 19, 2011, Lewis is an honoured guest at the Royal National Mòd in Stornoway, Scotland. An Comunn Gàidhealach, the Gaelic Society of Scotland, has crowned Lewis MacKinnon the newest Scottish bard. This is the first time in history that a Canadian has been named to serve in this highly prestigious post in Scotland. It is something that we Canadians can be truly proud of.

On his visit, Lewis is accompanied by Ottawa's Ar n-Òran Scottish Gaelic Choir, which performed a specially arranged medley of original Canadian Gaelic tunes composed by the choir's director, Randy Waugh, of Ottawa.

I am sure all honourable senators join me in extending sincere congratulations to Lewis MacKinnon of Nova Scotia and to the Ar n-Òran Scottish Gaelic Choir of Ottawa for their efforts towards preserving the Gaelic heritage of Canada, which is being recognized this very day at the National Mòd in Scotland.