Presenter Biographies

Additional biographies will be added as presenters are confirmed.

Kit Ashton is a musician, ethnomusicologist, and filmmaker from the British Channel Island of Jersey, near France. He is also a PhD Music candidate at Goldsmiths College, University of London, funded by the UK government’s Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-east England (CHASE). Kit is investigating the ways in which applied ethnomusicology can help to safeguard and revitalise Jersey’s critically endangered indigenous language of Jèrriais (a dialect of Norman French). He has a professional background in popular music as a singer, guitarist, and producer.

Màiri Britton is the Language in Lyrics Project Manager. She teaches Gaelic language at St Francis Xavier University and for a number of local community groups and programmes in Nova Scotia. She is a Gaelic singer and step dancer, and tours with North American trad band Fàrsan.

Liam Crouse works as the Gaelic Communications Officer for Ceòlas Uibhist, an arts, music and heritage organisation based in South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. He graduated from the School of Scottish Studies in 2012 and has lived in Uist for a few years, working on a range of projects looking at music, language and traditional knowledge within what is one of the strongest Gaelic-speaking communities in the world.

Begoña Echeverria, a native Basque speaker with a PhD in sociology, is a Professor at UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education. Her ethnographic work on Basque language schooling has appeared in academic journals in education, sociolinguistics, and anthropology. She has also published work examining gender, identity, and language use in Basque song. She is also a singer-songwriter with the Basque-American trio, NOKA. The trio performs songs in the Basque language, particularly those in the “noka” familiar address form, historically used when speaking to one girl or woman with whom one feels trust. Through its music, the group hopes to revive interest in Basque songs that use noka, which is disappearing in contemporary speech. 

Meaghan Haughian taught band and choir in Saskatchewan for five years before going on to complete her MA degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of Limerick in Ireland. She currently teaches in several music schools in the Limerick area, where she is also involved in the Irish-speaking and traditional music communities.

Michael Jacob has an MA in English (2010) and an MA in Applied Linguistics (2018). He is now a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he is also the president of the Applied Linguistics Student Association (ALSA). Michael has been teaching college writing and English as a second language for the past ten years, eight of which being at UMASS Boston. Michael is a proud member of the Celtic Studies Association of North America (CSANA), and recently presented at their 2019 conference at Harvard University. His presentation was entitled “Gaeilge Dhigiteach: Media Pedagogy and the Growth of Irish Online.”

Mary Jane Lamond is the Language in Lyrics Song Corpus Assistant. She is an internationally-renowned Gaelic singer with an extensive knowledge of the Nova Scotia Gaelic song repertoire. She has recorded six albums and worked in a number of different roles and projects focused on promoting and sharing the Gaelic language and culture of Nova Scotia.

Jenefer Lowe has been a Cornish speaker for over thirty years, and holds an MA in Celtic Studies from the University of Wales. She is currently a freelance cultural and language worker and was the first Cornish Language Development Manager (2006-16), responsible for language strategy and development. Prior to that she worked as Arts Officer for Cornwall Council. She is the Cornish delegate to the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, a member of the Cornish Dance Society committee, organises the Kan Rag Kernow song competition for the Cornwall Pan-Celtic Committee, runs a Cornish traditional dance team, calls for troyls (céilidhs) and teaches Cornish evening classes.

Lisa MacDonald is a singer and teacher who works in a Gaelic setting in the Highlands of Scotland. She teaches at Ullapool Primary School, which has a strong Gaelic Medium contingent, and she supports Gaelic Parent and Toddler groups in Kinlochbervie, Ullapool and Gairloch. Lisa recently graduated with a Masters degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her research considered the importance of song in facilitating Gaelic language acquisition in babies and children under the age of 3. Her current PhD at the University of Edinburgh builds on this thesis to develop a pedagogy for Gaelic 0-3 groups.

Fiona J. Mackenzie, (MA, Dip.Lib, MASP) lives on the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides, where she is the Archivist for the National Trust for Scotland in Canna House, the home of the Campbell Collections of Folklore and Song. She is an award-winning Gaelic singer and attributes the work of Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell, her music and her photography, as being the sources which inspired her to pursue a career in Gaelic song and Folklore. She has lectured extensively on John and Margaret Campbell’s work in North America and Europe including Harvard and St Francis Xavier, Nova Scotia.

Dr Michael Newton has a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies (University of Edinburgh 1998) and was an Assistant Professor in the Celtic Studies department of St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia 2008-2013. He has written several books and numerous articles about Gaelic culture and history and is a leading authority on Scottish Gaelic heritage in North America. His 2015 publication Seanchaidh na Coille / Memory-Keeper of the Forest: Anthology of Scottish Gaelic Literature of Canada is the first extensive collection of Gaelic-Canadian literature and analysis of it. In 2018 he was recognized with the International award at the annual Scottish Gaelic awards in Glasgow, Scotland.

Reuben Ó Conluain has 35 years of experience teaching Irish Gaelic to teenagers in the Irish education system and for twenty years of this time, he has also been involved in teaching Irish to adult learners, as well as the pre- and in-service training of post-primary teachers. Since 2000, he has been responsible for Irish Language Methodology classes on the Professional Master of Education at University College Dublin. Reuben presented his own 10-part series of archive materials for Irish Language teachers on national television broadcaster RTÉ, and well as a radio series on Dublin local radio station Raidió na Life, aimed at teenage learners of Irish and their teachers.

Olufunmilola Temitayo Oladipo has several years of experience as a secondary school Music teacher, and a lecturer of music with the Department of Music Technology, the Polytechnic Ibadan, Nigeria, and the Department of Music, Adeyemi College of Education, Nigeria. Presently, she teaches music at the Department of Performing Arts, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria. Her area of interest is music education and African musicology. She has scores of journal articles and book chapters to her credit, and has attended several national and international conferences and presented papers.

Orlaith Ruiséal is Director of Oidhreacht Corca Dhuibhne’s Tús Maith (‘A Good Start’) programme, which is designed to support families and children in speaking Irish.

Cassie Smith-Christmas is a Research Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Both Orlaith and Cassie are principal investigators on the project ‘The Intersection of Language and Community in Corca Dhuibhne’ with the Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s ‘Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe’ (‘SMiLE’) initiative.

Morgan Sleeper is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Macalester College. His main research interests include Patagonian Welsh and the structural and social intersections of language and music, and his work focuses on new methodologies for incorporating musical data into linguistic documentation, analysis, and revitalization.

The Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) is a First Nation non-profit organization. Our mandate is to be a teaching centre for early learning that incorporates the Splatsín language, culture and history into our programming for children aged 0-12 years old, parents, family, and community. The Splatsin (pronounced “sbla-cheen”) are the most southern tribe of the 17 Shuswap First Nations who make up the Secwepemc Nation, the largest Interior Salish speaking First Nation in Canada whose aboriginal territory stretches from the BC/Alberta border near the Yellowhead Pass to the plateau west of the Fraser River, southeast to the Arrow Lakes and to the upper reaches of the Columbia River.