Presenter Biographies

Additional biographies will be added as presenters are confirmed.

Jane Arnold is Archivist at the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University, where she has been responsible for donor relations, collections management, and faculty and student engagement for over ten years. She has over two decades of experience in heritage, community, and educational initiatives in Cape Breton. Jane currently serves on the Heritage Cape Breton Connection Board, is a member of the Katharine McLennan Award Committee, and volunteers with the Council of Nova Scotia Archives.

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.

Fiddle player Liz Doherty from Buncrana, Co. Donegal lectures in traditional music at Ulster University, Magee campus, Derry and was recently recognised for her role in teaching and learning with a National Teaching Fellowship. Her PhD thesis focussed on the fiddle music of Cape Breton Island, and in 2015 she published The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion (Cape Breton University Press). She has also carried out extensive research on performance-related injuries among traditional musicians. Liz has performed and recorded as a solo artist and with the Bumblebees, Fiddlesticks, Nomos and Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra; she is also an occasional member of international all-women band, String Sisters. She is a highly sought after teacher of traditional fiddle music and has been director of several festivals and events including The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Derry/Donegal (2012). As a traditional arts consultant she has worked on various national and international projects, including as Traditional Arts Specialist with the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon (2005-2008). She is currently a member of Culture Ireland’s Expert Advisory Committee.

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. 

Shaun Ferns is a lecturer at Technological University Dublin. He is currently teaching on the BA (Hons) in Creative Digital Media where he is lead in the delivery of the multimedia development stream. He has previously played an active role in teaching, research, academic assessment, course development and the academic direction of several courses including; BS (Hons) in Energy Systems and Industrial Automation & BS in Sustainable Electrical and Control Technology. He is currently exploring the opportunities transmedia provides in improving user experience and engagement in cultural archive artefacts as well as serious games and their role in a variety of educational settings. His educational research is currently driven by his interest in self-determined learning (heutagogy), previously he has published in areas which include flexible modes of delivery, assessment (peer & self), and active learning strategies.

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.

Abi Lightbody is from Fintry in Stirlingshire and went to the University of Glasgow where she learned Scottish Gaelic. After graduating she went on to work for the Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) for five years, where she facilitated the development of the Cluas ri Claisneachd audio archive. The audio archive is a free online resource containing Scottish Gaelic songs, stories and local lore from all over Scotland and also includes some Canadian material. Please visit for more information. Abi now lives near Beauly and works for Fèisean nan Gàidheal, based in their Inverness office.

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.

Joyce MacDonald is the director of the Atlantic Gaelic Academy at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College, where she organizes online Scottish Gaelic classes for learners around the world, as well as assisting with on-campus Gaelic programming. She is from Brook Village, Cape Breton. She has been learning Gaelic since she was a teen. She is currently pursuing an MA in Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University. She is very interested in the role of play in language learning.

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.

Frances MacEachen was co-founder, publisher and editor of the bilingual quarterly Am Bràighe from 1993-2003, which filled a void for information on Nova Scotia’s distinct Gaelic tradition.  Through Gaelic and English content, Am Bràighe reflected the Gaels’ own cultural aesthetic and built a sense of kinship and community among Gaels in Nova Scotia and beyond.  In 2003, she began working for the Province of Nova Scotia and co-created programs to support language and cultural recovery, including the mentorship programBun is Bàrr. In Bun is Bàrr learners visit senior Gaels and mentors to continue language transmission through culture: sharing food/tea, news, stories, songs and friendship while grounding the learner in a people and place.  She is also a co-founder of the cross-cultural initiative MAGIC (The Mi’kmaq, Acadians and Gaels of Inverness County).  Frances is a contemporary tradition bearer carrying songs, stories and histories.

Peter D. MacIntyre is professor of psychology at Cape Breton University.  His research focusses on the psychology of language and communication. He has published over 100 articles and chapters on language anxiety, willingness to communicate, motivation and other topics. He has co-authored or co-edited books on topics including Positive Psychology in SLA, Motivational Dynamics. Nonverbal Communication, Teaching Innovations, and Capitalizing on Language Learner Individuality. His awards include being recognized for teaching excellence (Atlantic Association of Universities), the Gardner Award (International Association for Language and Social Psychology) and the Mildenberger Prize (Modern Language Association) for contributions to the study of language.

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.

Lewis MacKinnon is Executive Director of the Office of Gaelic Affairs, a Division of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Government of Nova Scotia. In his work, he is involved in initiatives at the community, institutional and government levels, supporting Gaelic language and cultural reclamation and advancing socio-economic opportunities for Nova Scotia Gaels. His work entails the promoting and furthering of understanding and awareness of Gaels in Nova Scotia via their unique Gaelic language and cultural identity. As a Gaelic language and cultural advocate, Lewis is involved in teaching, presenting on Nova Scotia Gaels, composing and publishing poetry, and writing and musical performances. He has authored numerous articles, published four books of Gaelic poetry and released an all Gaelic CD.

Seigheag ni’n Aonghais | Shay MacMullin is a skilled educator in the céilidh tradition, where Gaelic language and culture is acquired through social interaction and modelling in an encouraging and safe learning environment. She learned her Gaelic to rapid fluency through Gàidhlig aig Baile | Gaelic in the Home and Bun is Bàrr mentoring with Seumas mac Sheumais, Annag ni’n Iain Alasdair and Mìcheal Eòin Chaluim.  She is an important bridge for the learner and elder and is passionate about sharing language, songs, stories, histories, traditional crafts and more. She is a Gaelic specialist at Baile nan Gàidheal and a community educator sharing Gaelic language and culture through immersion opportunities like Cainnt is Cànan and A’ Togail na Gàidhlig.  She has also worked on other community projects including An Drochaid Eadarainn, Gàidhlig aig Baile training and Nova Scotia Gaels Jam.

Dr. Emily McEwan-Fujita trained as a linguistic anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Her research specialized in the linguistic and cultural revitalization of Scottish Gaelic and other minority languages. She has been involved with Gaelic for 30 years, first in Scotland and more recently in Nova Scotia. Dr. McEwan-Fujita taught anthropology and sociolinguistics at several universities, most recently SMU and the Atlantic School of Theology. She blogs at and is the author of numerous academic articles on Gaelic revitalization. She is the founder and president of Bradan Press, a publishing company connecting readers worldwide with Gaelic language and culture.

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.

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.

Originally from Virginia in the US, Cassie Smith-Christmas received her PhD from the University of Glasgow in 2012 for her thesis on code-switching and intergenerational transmission in a Gaelic-speaking family on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.  From 2012-2016, Cassie held a research fellowship with Soillse at the University of the Highlands and Islands.  Cassie also held a fellowship at the Institute for the Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh (2014-15), during which time she completed her monograph Family Language Policy:  Maintaining an Endangered Language in the Home  (Palgrave, 2016).  Cassie continued her work on intergenerational language transmission with a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Irish Research Council for the project ‘The Challenges of Minority Language Maintenance: Family Language Policy in Scotland and Ireland’  (GOIPD/2016/644).  She is the co-editor (with Marsaili McLeod) of Gaelic in Contemporary Scotland: The Revitalisation of an Endangered Language (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).  She is also a fiddler and has played with the bands Poisoned Dwarf (2003-2006) and Iona  (2007-2008).

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.

David Samuels is Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Department at New York University. He writes and researches at the borders between linguistic anthropology, folklore, and ethnomusicology. His book, Putting A Song On Top of It: Music and Identity on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, was the first book-length monograph exploring popular music’s place in the formation of contemporary Indigenous identities. His current work focuses on missionary encounters in the refiguring of language, culture, and aesthetics, and the sense of ethics informing the discourse of various musical movements in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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.