by Prof. A. Wayne MacKay
Scots are an important component of the multi-cultural fabric
of Nova Scotia. So much so that the clans have sometimes regarded being Scottish as the
norm in Nova Scotia and other cultural expressions as abnormal or at least on the fringes.
In a strictly numerical sense, the great majority of Nova Scotians do have Scottish
ancestry and the Scots have left a very important imprint on the culture of the province.
However, this fact should not be used to diminish the contributions of other groups such
as the Micmacs, Blacks, Lebanese, Greeks, Germans, Acadians and others to numerous to
In rather typical independent fashion, the Scottish clans
have been so intent on developing and extending their own heritage that they have paid
little attention to other cultural groups. To be blunt, they have sometimes considered
themselves to be a cut above the other cultural groups in Nova Scotia and have on
occasions fallen prey to a kind of elitism. It is hardly surprising that clans which have
spent much time demonstrating their superiority to the other clans, are less open in
accepting the other cultural groups on a basis of equality.
Fortunately, these elements of elitism and exclusivity are
breaking down. This in certainly true in relation to inter-clan activities where co-
operation has replaced competition as the normal operating principle. While each clan
retains a healthy pride in its own accomplishments, it is happy to pool its energies with
those of other clans in joint endeavours. Picnics, dinners and sporting events are often
pursued on an inter-clan basis. While it is still fun to joke about old highland feuds,
the modern Nova Scotian clans stress their common goals rather than their differences.
This new spirit of collective endeavour can be extended
outside the Scottish ranks. I am proud to say that Clan MacKay took a lead in this regard
by participating in the Multicultural festival held in Halifax during June, 1985. Our clan
set up its tent (complete with Ida's oat cakes) and enjoyed the displays and performances
of the many other cultural groups represented at the festival. It was a healthy exchange
of cultural perspectives from which all participants could benefit. This initiative was
extended by inviting James Francois from the Multicultural Association to speak at our
Halifax dinner on October 26, 1985. Clan MacKay hosted other clans at this event so it
represented a co-operative spirit in all respects.
Of course the clans will continue to espouse a kind of rugged
individualism as part of their "raison d'etre" and we can't resist claims that
our clan is really the best. Nonetheless, I sense a new spirit of co- operation and
open-ness which will allow inclusive and tolerant approach to those who hold different
views. It is a sign of maturity and strength when isolationism and elitism can be replaced
by a collective appreciation of the many strands of Nova Scotia's multicultural fabric.
One does not lose an identity by sharing it with others.