Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia invests $1.9M for Gaelic College satellite campus

A former convent and residence in Mabou, N.S., will be turned into a satellite campus of the Gaelic College thanks to a $1.92 million investment from the government of Nova Scotia.

Funding will help transform former St. Joseph's Convent in Mabou

During the event, Premier Iain Rankin said promoting culture brings economic benefits to Nova Scotia. (Wendy Bergfeldt/CBC)

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced Saturday the province is investing $1.92 million to create a satellite campus of the Gaelic College in the small Cape Breton community of Mabou.

The former St. Joseph's Convent and Renewal Centre, built in 1952, will be transformed into Mabou Hill College, or Beinn Mhàbu.

In a news release from the province, Rankin said the investment will "help in promoting, preserving and perpetuating Gaelic language, culture and identity."

Speaking at the site, he said culture is an important part of the fabric of life in Nova Scotia and the investment will yield economic dividends.

"The Gaelic culture, Mi'kmaw culture, African Nova Scotian culture, all those things really help to ensure that we have celebration of our traditions and, again, the economic benefits are huge," he said.

Completion is scheduled for September 2022.

The satellite campus will be at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Convent and Renewal Centre. (Congregation Notre Dame)

The college will offer a foundation year program featuring broad-based course options including Gaelic culture and history and certificates in cultural organizations, event management and music and ethnomusicology. 

Credit recognition for courses will be provided by Cape Breton University.

The college will also be home to artists-in-residence, the first Gaelic middle school in North America and an internet-based Gaelic radio station.

New opportunities

President of Gaelic College, Rodney MacDonald, said the project is a big undertaking but is exciting for Cape Breton Island. 

He said the college will have significant benefits for the small community. He said the community needs the time before completion to adjust itself to the potential changes. 

"We've seen on a much larger scale what that means in a place like Sydney with the growth of Cape Breton University," he said.

"We can have that same growth on a much smaller scale [here]. And that's important for a community like Mabou when you have hotels, motels, pubs, restaurants, stores."

MacDonald said depending on the number of students attending the college, many employment opportunities could open up. 

"My goal is to hire as many Gaelic-speaking young staff, and just culturally appreciative people. And that's part of our policy for hiring," he said.