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Scots Diaspora Strategy: Ours Not Theirs

I have been graced by a New Year’s epiphany.  A Scottish Diaspora Strategy isn’t necessarily Scotland’s strategy.  It can be – aye, should be – our strategy.

Translation:  In the past and continuing to this very day, the Scottish government has asked its Ancestral Diaspora to play a predefined and very narrow role in the government’s internal Diaspora policies.  As pointed out in prior blog posts on this subject, while many other governments do, ScotGov has never issued an invitation to Scotland’s Diaspora to join as a full partner in a broader overall “two way street” Diaspora Strategy.

Mostly because there has been no other alternative and partly because it has been to our apparent benefit, the Diaspora has participated and played its role – grumbling along the whole way.  So, floating in the same boat along the same river, COSCA has recently taken up the idea of suggesting some serious reconstructive surgery on ScotGov’s Diaspora policies to create more and better opportunities for Scotland’s Ancestral Diaspora to benefit in various ways from our ancestral relationship with the homeland – and vice versa.  We are delighted that ScotGov has expressed a willingness to listen to our ideas.

Right then, we are on the correct track.  Wrong.  Well, sort of right and sort of wrong.  I recently had the extreme privilege of having a conversation with Mr. John King Bellassai, COSCA’s Vice President.  John pointed out that while partnership with ScotGov has a role, Scotland’s Ancestral Diaspora enjoys the presence of several very appropriate potential heritage partners in addition to ScotGov.  While it certainly makes sense to pursue appropriate and feasible ideas regarding Ancestral Diaspora policy with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s new government – and indeed whatever government sits at Holyrood – we cannot and should not look to ScotGov to provide everything that Scotland’s Ancestral Diaspora wants and needs.  We need to reach much further.

As we are graced with one of the coolest Ancestral Diaspora and heritages in the world, the Scottish Ancestral Diaspora is able to look to a variety of pools of Scottish ancestral focus and policy for partners. Without doubt, the best example of such a deeply advantageous partnership has been the global Ancestral Diaspora’s recently expanding and remarkably productive relationship with the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.  

We look forward with great excitement to development of our next exemplary heritage partnership involving Scotland’s Lord Lyon King of Arms.  In recent years, Lyon’s office has been evolving toward a more open and interactive presence in Scottish heritage and ancestry.  Today, with the recent appointment of Dr. Joseph Morrow as Lord Lyon, we are delighted to discover a brand new partner in Scottish heritage preservation.  Do not forget to catch Dr. Morrow at COSCA’s 2015 Scottish Clan & Family Caucus at Historic Rural Hill all weekend April 17 – 19, 2015.  COSCA’s appointment of Dr. Bruce Durie as our official Seannachaidh will prove a tremendous human link between our two organizations and we are delighted with the possibilities to come as we join with our friends at the Society of Scottish Armigers to welcome and Scotland’s Lord Lyon King of Arms to the Scottish Ancestral Diaspora team.

There are others.  Of significant note are the non governmental charitable historic and landscape preservation organizations in Scotland.  We have recently reported on some tough times that these organizations are facing and their difficulties meeting their critical missions of preserving our Scottish built and landscape heritage and educating the world of its importance.  Tops on the list is the venerable National Trust for Scotland.  The Scottish Ancestral Diaspora has great respect and affection for NTS and we look forward to working more closely with the Trust under the fresh new leadership of Sir Moir Lochead.

We know that there exists a very genuine committed group of Scots in Scotland who already treasure their ancient Scots roots and heritage.   Overall, this group has not fully exploited national or even regional networking possibilities.  We do note the great work going on in the Highlands and Islands by groups such as our friends at the Inverness based Association of Highland Clans & Societies.   In 2015 COSCA will extend our hand to this growing segment of the Scottish population to strengthen our mutual understanding of each other and to find more ways to cooperate to our mutual benefit.

That is certainly not the entire list.  Add Scottish commercial enterprise, Scottish academia and the Scots arts & cultural community, all of which could and should be working closely with COSCA and friends in support of our Scottish Ancestral Diaspora Strategy.

Alrighty then.  Developing a strong Scottish Diaspora Strategy means a whole lot more than working with the Scottish government.  No worries, we are on it.  The good news is we really are not at the beginning of a Scottish Ancestral Diaspora Strategy – we are well into it indeed.  We are already working with great partners like the Scottish Australian Heritage Council and Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada and others.  We have begun to develop great ties to the Scottish academic community through COSCA’s Educational Advisory Team.  Culture and Arts?  Our friends at Struileag Shore To Shore provide a bright example of the potential for great partnerships that lies there.

Much work is ahead but what an exciting road runs before us in 2015 and beyond!  If you would like to be a part of it all and help make sure COSCA is able to do the best job we can on your behalf please Join Us! It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s cheap ($25) but believe me, adding your name to the Clan COSCA Roll makes a big big difference.  Interested?  CLICK HERE TO JOIN COSCA.

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