HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan (second from left, back row) with the Canadian acts 

The 22nd Hebridean Celtic Festival which opens tonight (Wednesday, July 19th) will strengthen the musical and cultural bonds between the islands and Canada.
A group of visiting artists from New Brunswick arrived off the ferry to Stornoway last night to start a visit to enhance traditional ties during the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
The confederation was the process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Many of the early Canadian settlers emigrated from Scotland, including the Hebrides, and that heritage is still celebrated in songs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Singer-songwriter Tristan Horncastle, female fiddlers and dancers the Lumber Jills and children’s music act Shelley Bean & The Duckety Muds will perform at HebCelt, which runs until Saturday.
As well as being a performer herself, Shelley Chase, aka Bean, is also behind efforts to promote New Brunswick artists to a wider audience.
She said: “I suggested to HebCelt we would be interested in a cultural project that exposed the Isle of Lewis and Scotland to a province they may not know much about that had many Scottish immigrants.
“Canadians always want to know more about where our ancestors come from and Scotland and Ireland are very much at the top of the list, especially as so many folk songs talk about leaving Scotland and we are the second part of the story.
“The longing for Scotland and the homesickness that first wave carried to our province stayed in the music long after they passed. Our generation still sings of the longing for Scotland and so the natural curiosity amongst us is to see what they left and where we come from.”
Tristan Horncastle, who plays a solo set on the acoustic stage on Friday and will be on the Islands Stage with his band on Saturday, was nominated in the Canadian Country Music Association Awards’ Rising Star category and the Canadian Radio Music Awards for Best New Group or Solo Artist in the Country category in 2015; and has also had three wins at Prix Music NB Awards for Album of the Year, Country Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice.
Last year his album ‘Turnin’ Up A Sundown’ earned him a CCMA nomination for Recording Package of the Year and five nominations at the Prix Music NB Awards for Country Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, SOCAN Song of the Year, Video of the Year and Producer of the Year.
The Lumber Jills, who are on the Islands Stage on Friday, are all aged under 20, but have won multiple awards for their heritage music and dancing.
And Shelley Bean, who has been working with children for over 20 years, mixing traditional music, dance and entertainment, appears in the New Brunswick marquee at the arena fringe on Friday and Saturday.
You can keep up to date with all the HebCelt 2017 news on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hebcelt; on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hebcelt; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HebCelt, and online at www.hebceltfest.com