COVID won’t stop Canadians from celebrating Scottish heritage by skating in kilts and tartans this winter. The Seventh Annual Great Canadian Kilt Skate will go ahead with a new twist – a “Home Edition.”
“This year, we want kilt skaters to use their home ice advantage,” says Don Cummer, Director National Kilt Skate for the Scottish Society of Ottawa (SSO), which organizes the pan-Canadian event each winter. “The public health protocols may well prevent us from gathering in large numbers as we have in the past, but we can still skate on the backyard rinks, the neighbourhood rinks, and the frozen ponds and streams down the road. Add them all up and this may be the biggest year yet for kilt skating in Canada.”
The kilt skate phenomenon began in 2015, when the SSO helped organize kilt skates in four Canadian cities. North Glengarry held its first kilt skate in 2018 and in 2019 was declared the Kilt Skate Capital of Canada. This year, nine cities are participating in the Great Canadian Kilt Skate, including:
- Montreal QC
- North Glengarry ON
- Ottawa ON
- Toronto ON
- Fergus ON
- Winnipeg MB
- Saskatoon SK
- Lethbridge AB
- Calgary AB
Many of these cities had made tentative plans for their annual community events this winter, but recently-announced provincial guidelines have put some of those plans on hold. Instead, they are joining together to encourage kilt skaters everywhere to celebrate as individuals and families within the pandemic protocols.
“Our faces may be masked,” says Cummer, “but our knees will be bare. This Covid winter, we’re encouraging kilt skaters to stay safe. Skate at a safe distance. Get out with your family. Follow the rules. Have a good time. Oh, and post pictures.”
Individuals and families are encouraged to post photos and video on social media of their mini-event to help Glengarry win the title of Kilt Skate capital of Canada.
“When we last hosted the Kilt Skate in 2019, North Glengarry won the title of Kilt Skate Capital of Canada,” said North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald. ”We are confident that our residents will once again embrace this competition, don their tartan and help us to reclaim this title – all while enjoying the crisp winter air and having a bit of fun.”
In order to compete, residents are asked to submit photos of their own, socially distanced skating adventures to social media, using the hashtag #kiltskate2021GLEN along with #OttScot and #ScotlandIsNow. On Facebook please include @northglengarry. The competition runs from December 31, 2020 to February 28, 2021. Using these hashtags will enable the images and videos to be added to the tally of participants. Photos and videos can also be emailed to [email protected]. The Scottish Society of Ottawa plans to compile a video from the submissions.
“Year by year, the kilt skate phenomenon has grown across Canada and internationally,” says Cummer. “We’ve always relied upon local organizations to host community events. But the pandemic has made us do things differently. This year, we’re going to see hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual and family events from one end of the country to the other.”
In supporting the Canadian kilt skates across Canada this year, the Scottish Society of Ottawa has once again partnered with the Scottish Government, which uses the events to promote its #ScotlandIsNow campaign that highlights Scotland as a dynamic, forward-looking nation that is a good place in which to live, work, study, and invest. The Government of Ontario has also supported kilt skating in this province through its support for the Scottish Society of Ottawa’s OttScot Festival.