We are not amused by name change

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Some people love their adjectives. In some cases, they pile them onto a subject without thinking. Sometimes that can cause royal consternation.

Outside northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton a lot of people might wonder what is the fuss. But a considerable number were not amused by a recent decision – by its board of directors – to change the name of Cape Breton’s Gaelic College in St. Anns to the Royal Gaelic College. In fact they were royally ticked off.

Anyone with an inkling of the history of European settlement in the region will understand. Many of the originally Gaelic-speaking Scots who settled in Nova Scotia came as a result of the Highland clearances by the British, following on the heels of the decisive Battle of Culloden.

Those criticizing the name change refer to this chapter of history and describe the clearances in terms of “ethnic cleansing.”

True, the battle occurred in 1746, and time heals most wounds, but an ancestral grudge still remains among many Scottish descendants over that particular bit of British empire building. Some have called this inexplicable renaming of a college – dedicated to the Gaelic language and other cultural teachings – a little like rubbing people’s noses in the ancient defeat.

Put it this way. Someone wouldn’t go down to Georgia and rename a beloved southern institution the ‘Yankee’ something or other.

Speaking of not being amused, one can only imagine how the Queen feels about this constant watering down of the royal descriptor – unless the monarchy gets royalties for its use.

This latest attempt is worse than the misguided move by the federal Conservatives to restore the word ‘royal’ to the branch names of the Canadian military – getting people’s backs up about the country’s perceived colonial status.

Lessons in history aside: enough with the name changes for no reason. Royal in the case of this college is not just insulting, it’s inappropriate and entirely lacking in sense or meaning.

Organizations: Gaelic College

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Culloden Georgia

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