By Angus MacCaull

The sound of the bagpipes stirs deep. At a recent pancake breakfast, an old mariner told me how he feels like marching into battle whenever he hears the pipes.

Pipers gather each year for the Highland Games in Antigonish. They’re joined by drummers, dancers and athletes to celebrate songs, dances and feats of strength. It’s the oldest continuous gathering of its kind outside of Scotland—a testament to the importance of the Scottish culture to Nova Scotia.

This same culture has a special place at AA Munro Insurance. Our founder, A. Alcorn Munro, served as Chief of the Munro Clan in Nova Scotia during the 1970s. His son-in-law and successor in the business, Harley MacCaull, currently serves as Chief of the Clans for the Antigonish Highland Society. And our team managers proudly wear the Munro tartan, which has become a familiar sight at insurance industry events throughout the Maritimes.

We have supported the Highland Games for many years. This year we stepped up as Presenting Sponsors of the event with a commitment through 2021. We hope to inspire others to recognize the value of our history.

Of course, no history is without conflict. Many Scottish settlers in Nova Scotia came as refugees when powerful landowners took away their homes. When they arrived here, they in turn took away the homes of the First Nations communities. And their relationships with other groups of settlers were not always easy.

Feeling like marching into battle isn’t an empty saying. History shows the violent potential in all of us. When we talk about culture as a source of strength, my hope is that we’re aware enough to choose constructive rather than aggressive expressions.

This year, as I watched the Highland Games Parade, I enjoyed the familiar sights and sounds that played a big part of my childhood. But one float stood out with special resonance for me as part of a “mixed” family that can look and sound different.

Members of the Filipino Association of Antigonish smiled and danced together. Their bright colours and joyful sounds added a new, rich texture to the celebrations. I would dare say they were a crowd favourite.

I love Scottish culture. I feel it’s the foundation for my sense of compassion. And I also feel that a strong Nova Scotia is a strong Nova Scotia for everyone.