A native of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, inspirational author and social entrepreneur Barb Stegemann is the brain behind The 7 Virtues Beauty, a company that sources essential oils to support nations rebuilding from Haiti to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
What are your own Celtic roots?
Irish, my mother’s maiden name is Gough.
Why are those roots important to you?
I wish I knew more about our heritage. When you think of the courage of our great grandparents to come over to Canada with so little, sadly not much was documented. Perhaps this is a part of the longing to know more.
What does it mean to you to be of Celtic heritage?
It means strength and courage. Our great grandparents had very little and yet, courageously, travelled across the ocean to provide a new life for us all.
How are you involved with the Canadian Celtic community?
I return to my home community of Antigonish and give talks on my work. There is a strong Celtic community there. I return home to invest and share our story, but I could certainly be engaged more.
Why is it important to keep Celtic culture alive in Canada?
My son read Irish poems to me for his International Baccalaureate exams in Grade 12. He was reading out bogs and moss and rural life. Then he looked at me and said, “In my urban experience, I am trying to connect to these rural experiences.” My heart broke; for I know the smell of moss, the run through the wilderness with my Irish cousins in rural Nova Scotia. Our children are urban, they do not have a real connection to the life of our rural roots. However, by reading those Irish poems, my son’s pride and wonder about our roots was just one way for us to get the conversation going as a family.
In your estimation, are Canadians doing enough to keep Celtic culture alive?
No, we are not, and I am just as much to blame. I could do so much more. Life gets busy. But when my son read those Irish poems recently it made me realize we need to do more.
What could we be doing better?
Exchanges and programs for our youth to connect with our roots would be a good start. My son will be taking a business course in the U.K. in London at Ashridge Business School this summer. I will see if we can take a trip to Ireland if there is time and learn a bit more about where we came from.