Cape Breton Society Comunn Féis an Eilein Recipient of 2010 Portia White Protégé Prize

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Comunn Féis an Eilein, the Cape Breton society dedicated to promoting Gaelic culture and language through educational and social activities for people of all ages, receives the 2010 Portia White Protégé Prize from accomplished Nova Scotia singer Mary Jane Lamond at the Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala October 29, 2010 in Halifax

Comunn Féis an Eilein in Cape Breton is the recipient of the 2010 Portia White Protégé Prize. Cape Breton’s Mary Jane Lamond, famous for her spellbinding renditions of Gaelic songs, was awarded the 2010 Portia White Prize at the 2010 Creative Nova Scotia Awards October 29 in Halifax. To support the Society who is dedicated to the promotion of Gaelic culture and language in Cape Breton, Lamond gifted Comunn Féis an Eilein with the $7,000 Portia White Protégé Prize. The awards were hosted by the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council.

Allison Mackenzie, Coordinator, Comunn Féis an Eilein of the organization devoted to preserving Gaelic culture and language stated, "Our Society Comunn Féis an Eilein is very gratified to receive the 2010 Portia White Protégé Prize from Mary Jane Lamond this year. Mary Jane has demonstrated her confidence in our Society by conveying this award. In conjunction with our own fund-raising efforts, it will have a multiplier effect on the dollar value of the award itself and will also provide greater stability in our planning and programming for years to come.”

The Society celebrated the 20th anniversary of hosting the first Feis to be held outside of Scotland August 16th-21st, 2010 in Christmas Island, Cape Breton. A Féis is a community-based festival designed to promote the Gaelic language and culture of an area in part through the provision of educational and social activities for people of all ages. Notable was the Wednesday August 18th evening Symposium Comunn Féis an Eilein: Twenty Years of Gaelic Language, Music, and Culture when the Society took a look back at the history and development of Comunn Féis an Eilein over the past two decades, hosted by long time Féis supporter Lorrie MacKinnon.

“Viewing the Féis in retrospect, we heard from a variety of speakers, including founding members, native Gaelic speakers and those who have worked and volunteered for the organization over the years. In addition there were pictures and video remembering and celebrating past Féis events,” notes Allison MacKenzie. Also noteworthy was the Traditional Milling Frolic on Thursday August 19th when in what the Society believes has to be a record, at least a modern day record, 85 songs were sung by singers from home and away. The singing kept up until nearly 2am.

Comunn Féis an Eilein also hosted the 12th Annual Gaelic Concert Series Bu Deònach Leam Tilleadh, translated as I Would Willingly Return. The title of the Gaelic Concert Series is derived from a song composed by local Bard Hugh F. MacKenzie. While working in the lumber camps, he lamented leaving his home in Christmas Island. "Christmas of 1927 overtook me in Northern Ontario, eighty miles from civilization. While my associates amused themselves playing cards, I laid in bed to indulge in my melancholy alone. My thoughts of home and Cape Breton I tried to voice in the following verses vowing Bu Deònach Leam Tilleadh - I would willingly return,” quoted the late MacKenzie.

Each Tuesday evening some of Cape Breton’s finest musicians gathered at the Christmas Island Fire Hall to share the stage with emerging talent and local tradition bearers in bilingual Gaelic- English concerts. A Traditional Tea including oatcakes and tea biscuits was served during intermission.

The 2010 summer season featured 6 concerts to capacity crowds who were treated to superlative entertainment in the finest traditional Gaelic style in Christmas Island, Cape Breton. Cape Breton hosts a number of cultural festivals and events year round welcoming guests from around the world to experience the Gaelic culture vibrant on the Island. View http://www.celticheart.ca/celtic-experience/festivals-events

And for more information on Comunn Féis an Eilein and how to participate in the annual celebrations of Gaelic culture, music and language on Cape Breton Island, visit http://www.feisaneilein.ca/

About Comunn Féis an Eilein
Located in Christmas Island Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the Society’s mandate is to promote and preserve traditional Cape Breton Gaelic language and culture through means that are commensurate with the values of our community and with a particular focus on youth and seniors.

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Allison MacKenzie
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