FREDERICTON (GNB) – In celebration of New Brunswick’s rich Celtic heritage, April 2-8 has been declared Celtic Awareness Week.

“Through various waves of immigration, Celtic people have helped populate and shape our province, society and identity,” said Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Lisa Harris, who was named minister responsible for Celtic Affairs in June.

About 42 per cent of New Brunswickers, both francophone and anglophone, can trace some component of their heritage to Celtic origins.

During the week, New Brunswick’s Scottish community will hold its annual celebration of Tartan Day on April 6 with the raising of the Scottish national flag and special events.

“New Brunswick first proclaimed Tartan Day on April 6, 1993 in recognition of the significant role Scottish immigrants and their descendants have played and continue to play in the development of the Canadian and New Brunswick identity,” said Mel Fitton, president of the New Brunswick Scottish Cultural Association. “We welcome everyone to celebrate with us at the provincial flag raising legislature in Fredericton.”

The province has three active Celtic groups: the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Scottish Cultural Association and the Central New Brunswick Welsh Society.

“As one of the largest waves of immigration in the province’s history, the Irish have made significant contributions to the culture, identity and growth of our province,” said Marijke Blok, president of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick. “We are extremely pleased that the government is recognizing this important part of our history, along with the contributions of other Celtic groups, by declaring Celtic Awareness Week in New Brunswick.”

There are a number of places and events in the province which celebrate the unique cultural history of the three Celtic groups:

  • Irish history is commemorated at Middle Island Irish Historical Park and Irish music, dance and cultural workshops bring the culture alive during the annual Irish Festival on the Miramichi.
  • Each summer Scottish heritage is proudly on display at the Gathering of the Scots Highland Games in Perth-Andover, the Moncton Highland Games and Scottish Festival, the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival in Fredericton, and the Miramichi Scottish Festival.
  • The Welsh Chapel in Cardigan is a provincial historic site dedicated to commemorating the original families who established the first Welsh community in the province.

“When the first shipload of Welsh settlers arrived in New Brunswick in 1819, they were determined to make better lives for themselves and their children,” said Cynthia Jewett, president of the Central New Brunswick Welsh Society. “Despite the hardships of the first few years, they persevered and their descendants have made important contributions to their communities.”