A new initiative hopes to promote the Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia businesses by offering financing to businesses that include Gaelic in their day-to-day operations.
The Gaelic Business Initiative says examples could include menu offerings in Gaelic or having signage indicating Gaelic is spoken in the business.
The initiative started this year and groups that want to participate are eligible to receive $1,000 from the Office of Gaelic Affairs.
Nick Nickerson, co-founder of the programme, said businesses can also offer incentives for language use, including discounts if meals are ordered in Gaelic.
He said similar programs have been launched in Ireland and Scotland and have had positive impacts for customers and also for the business.
Gaelic language, culture, and music arrived in Nova Scotia in the late 18th century with Scottish immigrants. According to the Nova Scotia Gaelic Council, the province is now the only area outside of Scotland where the language survives.
“But for most people, their knowledge of the Gaelic culture and language is dormant,” Nickerson said. “Promoting Gaelic through business is one of the most accessible ways we can enable people to rediscover and relearn the language and culture.”
Nickerson said several businesses have incorporated Gaelic into their work, including an outdoor store in Cape Breton that offers information on walking trails in Gaelic.
Nickerson said the program can help businesses finance these changes, which include hosting Gaelic-language events such as cèilidhs, music festivals or storytelling sessions.
This comes at a time when groups across the province are trying to preserve and promote the culture. Many Gaelic speakers are passing away and Nickerson said the future of the language must be supported by the younger generation. For years Gaelic culture experienced a decline as the language fell out of use.
Nickerson said about a third of the province’s heritage is linked to Gaelic culture. It is also one of the few places where Gaelic is spoken in the world.
He hopes that people will find a connection to their roots and seek information about their lineage.
The Minister for the Office of Gaelic Affairs hopes that businesses will hang on and realize the potential this has to not only grow the business, but also the Gaelic culture.
“It’s something to add to the Gaelic experience,” said Allan MacMaster. “It’s the kind of thing that makes our island and our province unique.”
Nickerson said that while the project is in its first year, he expects 20 to 30 companies to join with more support in the coming years.