Board of Trustees

The Nova Scotia Highland Village Society is led by a volunteer Board of Trustees elected by the membership of the Society at its annual general meeting. The board meets six times per year.

The following are the trustees of the Society, as elected by the membership at our July 13, 2023 Annual General Meeting:

  • Hector MacNeil, Castle Bay (Exp. 2023/26) - President
  • John Hugh Edwards, Ross Ferry (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Gordon Campbell, Whycocomagh Portage (Exp. 2022/25) - Treasurer
  • Dena Pruski, Islandview (Exp. 2023/26) - Secretary
  • Matthew Cooke, Reserve Mines (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Madeline Harvey, Estmere (Exp 2022/25)
  • Joanne MacIntyre, Mabou Coal Mines (Exp. 2026/29)
  • Joanne MacGillivray, Northside East Bay (Exp. 2023/26)
  • Kenzie MacKinnon, Halifax (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Teresa MacNeil, Johnstown (Exp. 2026/29)
  • Wilfred MacNeil, Johnstown (Exp. 2022/25)
  • Barbara Morrison, Sydney (Exp. 2026/29)
  • Heather Sparling, Sydney (Exp. 2026/29)
  • Roland Thornhill, Baddeck (Exp. 2023/26)
  • Rhonda Walker, Red Islands (Exp. 2025/28)


Board of Trustee Bios

Gordon Campbell is originally from Big Bras d’Or. He graduated with his BBA from UCCB in 1987 and received his CA designation while working with Deloitte & Touche in Sydney. For 27 years, Gordon has held a number of senior finance roles, primarily with the Empire/Sobeys. Married to Vera, they have 3 adult children and currently reside in Whycocomagh Portage.


Matthew Cook has worked with Parks Canada since 2008. He is currently the Acting Visitor Experience Manager at Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. He was a board member and treasurer of the Old Sydney Society and a member of the CBRM Heritage Advisory Committee. He has bachelor degrees in commerce and history and is pursuing a masters degree in Scottish history at the University of Dundee. His interests include genealogy, gardening, reading, and birding. He has two daughters.


John Hugh Edwards was born and raised in Sydney Mines and has lived in Ross Ferry for the past thirty plus years, minus periods of exile in the United Kingdom and Ottawa. In 2002, John Hugh facilitated a province wide series of meetings on the future of Gaelic in Nova Scotia. A report on the consultation was released by the NS Department of Tourism and Culture in December 2002.


Madeline Harvey grew up in Northern New Brunswick. She came to Cape Breton and Parks Canada as a student interpreter while attending St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. She has worked in various segments of the hospitality industry as well as in the private sector, prior to a return to Parks Canada in 2005. Now retired, she currently sits on several community boards. Madeline and her husband, Paul, currently live on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake on the Iona Peninsula.


Joanne MacGillivary grew up in Northside East Bay, graduated from Dalhousie and has been teaching in Northern Quebec & Cape Breton since then. Her Dad was John Joe MacGillivary who was a founding member of the Cape Breton Gaelic Society in the early seventies. She is also related to Donald MacEachern who was well known in the Cape Breton Gaelic Culture circle. Joanne taught in Eskasoni & has in interest in the Mi'kmaw & Gael's working together along with her own personal interest in the Gaelic way of doing things.


Joanne MacIntyre of Mabou Coal Mines is a Gaelic speaker, singer, and educator at Dalbrae Academy in her home community of Mabou. She is a graduate of Saint Francis, Xavier University, where she studied Celtic Studies in her undergrad, and continued on to earn her Bachelor of Education and then Master of Education. She served as Chief Interpreter at Baile nan Gàidheal from 2005 to 2010. She is an active member of the Gaelic community, currently serving as a board member for Communn Gàidhlig is Eachdraidh Màbu and Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide. 


Kenzie MacKinnon graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Major in Political Science, following which he studied at the University of Edinburgh. He has law degrees from Dalhousie University and the London School of Economics. Kenzie was awarded the designation of QueensCounsel in 2013. His practice has been in the area of family and matrimonial law. Kenzie is active in his community, having served on several boards, and being involved in the political process, both at the federal and provincial levels.


Hector MacNeil was born and raised in Portage. He completed a BA in Celtic Studies at UCCB and an MA in Celtic Studies at St. F.X. in Antigonish. Retired from the Gaelic College and Cape Breton University, Hector worked throughout his professional life as a Gaelic teacher and promoter. He also served with a number of community organizations over the years. Hector has taught Gaelic language and song to students of all ages in many different settings and has been a regular contributor at Gaelic storytelling sessions, milling frolics and anywhere Nova Scotia Gaels gather to celebrate their language and their culture. He lives in Castle Bay with his wife Gisele.


Teresa MacNeil grew up in rural Cape Breton, returning there to live in 1996 upon retiring from thirty-seven years at St. Francis Xavier University where she was Professor of Adult Education and, at times, a senior administrator. She has been active in issues relating to adult learning and community economic development, locally, provincially and nationally. She holds masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin in educational policy studies. She led community efforts to achieve the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation for the Bras dOr Lake and its watershed and has served on many other boards. She is a member of the Order of Canada.


Wilf MacNeil is a former teacher and administrator with the public school system. He is currently CEO of Learn North Inc in Port Hawkesbury. He is involved in several community and regional development organizations. He resides in Johnstown with his wife Betty.


Barbara Morrison was born and raised in Sydney and has had an interest in the culture of Scotland and Ireland since she was young. She worked for 2 years with Major CIN MacLeod at St. FX. and then at Highland Village doing tours on the hill. During that summer, she lived with Rod C. MacNeil's family in Barra Glen and learned to play pipes with the Highland Village Pipe Band. Following university at St. FX and Acadia, she taught for 34 years during which time she completed a Masters in Information Technology at CBU/Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retired in 2011, she's rekindled her interest in Gaelic and the pipes and training dogs. She lives in Coxheath with her husband and dog, Reel.  


Dena Pruski is retired from Bell-Aliant where she was an Operations Manager for Small Business. Currently Dena is a volunteer at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in hospice palliative care and is a member of the East Bay and Area Community Council. She also volunteers as a reader/lector at St Mary's Church in East Bay and assists the CWL with their lunches for funerals and other activities. Dena lives in Islandview. 


Heather Sparling holds a PhD in ethnomusicology and is a professor of music at Cape Breton University. Her research focuses on Gaelic song, music, and dance in Nova Scotia, and she has a particular interest in language revitalization with music. She is a fluent Gaelic learner who has long been active in the Nova Scotia Gaelic community. She sits on the boards of several community organizations, including the Cape Breton Gaelic Society.


Roland Thornhill is a proud Newfoundlander who can tell a story as well as any other Newfoundlander and better than most. Born in Grand Banks, he attended Memorial and Dalhousie Universities. He served as Mayor of Dartmouth from 1967 to 1973 and MLA for Dartmouth South in the NS House of Assembly from 1974 to 1993. He held various cabinet posts including Minister of Development, Chair of the Treasury Board and Deputy Premier, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. He was appointed Minister of Tourism in 1988 and finally Minister of Community Services. He was honoured with Queen Elizabeths Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. He has sat on many boards. He lives in Baddeck with his wife Bonnie.


Rhonda Walker is a retired civil servant who spent the last 16 years of her career with the NS Dept. of Communities, Culture & Heritage (CCH). She held a variety of roles, most recently Executive Director of Archives, Museums, and Libraries. She has worked closely with volunteer boards, providing advice and support. Now living in Red Islands, she was raised in Sydney and spent many summers at the Walker farm in Ottawa Brook helping to bring in the hay (old school with horses and pitchforks). It was there that she first heard of the Highland Village and of course Highland Village Day. She was excited to support the Village's work and plans for expansion and "Next Chapter" while at CCH.