Founding Members and Directors

Randaidh (Gil) Waugh, President,   was born in Callander, a small town on Lake Nipissing in Northern Ontario. He is a classically trained trumpet player and electric bassist who toured as a rock musician in the 1970s. In the early 1980s after leaving fulltime music, Randaidh trained as a commercial pilot, worked as a licensed Private Investigator, and eventually ended up returning to university to studying Criminology, and then college to study computer programming. He is avidly interested in cognitive science and neural network applications, and for many years now, has designed, secured and maintained corporate networks. In the late 1990s, Randaidh wrote the Karen Simpson Sandalwood Detective agency series novels Mind Surfing and Evening Song – Òran Feasgair, which are still in print and were published under the pseudonym Gil Waugh. He has appeared on countless radio shows, was a feature guest on Global Televisions Mystery Inkand The Destiny Files, and in 2002 was a keynote speaker at the AMEC conference at the University of Mexico in Mexico City. In 1997, Randaidh co-founded Round the World Challenge (RWC) with Scottish born World Cup ski champion and James Bond stuntman, Mike Nemesvary, who lives with quadriplegia after a routine training accident in the mid 1980s. The goal of RWC was for Mike to drive his specially equipped truck around the world to raise funds and awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities. Mike and actor Christopher Reeve officially launched RWC in the spring of 2001, and in October of 2001, Mike succeeded in becoming the first quadriplegic to circumnavigate the globe. The trip won media attention all around the globe, raised an estimated 1.5 million dollars, won Mike a Governor General meritorious service medal, and was captured in a feature length documentary film.

Randaidh hails from a proud mix of Highland and Lowland Scottish heritage which has strongly motivated him to embrace, support and promote Gaelic language, music and culture. In February 2009 Randaidh rallied a core group of directors together and incorporated Comunn Gàidhlig Ottawa. In June of 2009, he formed the Ar n-Òran Gaelic choir which recorded their first CD only three months later in September 2009. He continued to spearhead the Gaelic movement in Ottawa by organizing and holding the first-ever Mòd Canada in November 2009. He has completed an array of Gàidhlig courses at Atlantic Gaelic Academy, St. Ann's Gaelic College and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Scotland. He is currently a P/T Professor of Gàidhlig at University of Ottawa and runs the West-End Studio of the Ottawa City Piping College.

Bethanaidh Bisaillion, Vice-President, is a world class piper, composer and pipe major of The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band who has graced concert stages with the like of Supertramp's Roger Hodgson and played for Her Majesty the Queen of England. She has worked tirelessly on Scottish music and cultural events for many years, and embraces and supports Gaelic and CGO's ongoing initiatives.

Olga Waugh, Secretary, is a proud Russian Canadian who holds graduate level degrees in civil and design engineering. She is fluent in three languages, can get by in a handful of others and is in the process of learning to play snare drum with The Sons of Scotland. She is the proud mother of three children and resides amongst the aromatic cedar trees with her husband, Randaidh (Gil) Waugh. She believes in the CGO cause and supports Gaelic rights and activities with her enthusiasm and many skills.

Pawl W. Birt Ph.D., Director, is the Chair of Celtic Studies at University of Ottawa's Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Dr. Birt holds a PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor and an MA from the University of Wales, Lampeter. He is a researcher, author, professor and subject matter expert in Modern Welsh Literature, The Welsh in Argentina, Early Celtic Narrative. He has been a pillar in the Ottawa Celtic community for many years and his collaborative approach has helped him to grow both the program at UofO and the cross-connectivity between Celtic Nations in the National Capital Region.

Sìne McKenna, Director, has been teaching and performing Scots Gaelic songs for over 20 years. Although born and raised in Montreal, she was immersed in the culture of the Scottish and Irish Gael from a young age. She first began her Gaelic language studies at St. Francis Xavier University , and later, on the Island of Skye.

Since that time, Sine has performed at concerts, clubs and ceilidhs in Scotland and Canada and has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4 (Scotland),the CBC and Radio Canada. Sine was lead vocalist with the Montreal based Celtic group Phenigma, who made their first CD in 1995. She later went on to establish three Glengarry based musical groups: Nigheanan Glengarry, who performed throughout Quebec, Ontario and Scotland, as well as Celtic Works and Anam Cara.

She has been awarded gold medals for excellence in traditional song, at the Toronto Gaelic Mod, the premier Gaelic festival in North America. She is also winner of the prestigious Quebec Thistle Council Award , for the teaching of Scots Gaelic language and song.

Since 1991, Sine has been running Celtic Heritage programmes in elementary schools as well as performing and teaching at festivals and Highland Games. She has been an instructor at the University of Ottawa since 2002 where she teaches Scots Gaelic language and Highland traditions.

Sine was on the executive of The Canadian Celtic Congress and cofounder of the first Gaelic medium playgroup on the Isle of Skye as well as Glengarry Place for the Arts.She has just recently completed a booklet of Gaelic language learning songs for children and is presently working on her first solo CD called The Gaelic Voice in Canada.

Jamie MacDonald Ph.D., Director, is a native of North Carolina who has spent many years studying Gaelic language and song. He earned a Ph.D. in Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh and a DipHE in Gaelic and Related Studies from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in the Isle of Skye. In 2002, Jamie emigrated to Nova Scotia to take up the Ben Alder Chair of Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and has resided there ever since. He has taught Gaelic and Gaelic song not only throughout the US, but in Canada and Scotland as well. In addition to placing in the Gold Medal competition at the National Mòd in Scotland for solo Gaelic singing, he has won gold medals at the Vancouver Mòd and at the U.S. National Mòd, where he won the men’s Gold Medal three times. Jamie was instrumental in the founding of the Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Language and Song Week and the NC Provincial Mòd. In addition to singing and teaching, Dr. MacDonald is also involved in Gaelic publishing. He has published a Gaelic instruction manual, Làn Gàidhlig (Full of Gaelic), and six Gaelic children’s books which he has translated: Sgeulachd Pheadair Rabaid (Peter Rabbit),Sgeulachd Bheniàmin Coineanach (Benjamin Bunny), Sgeulachd Simeig Tunnag-Lòin(Jemima Puddle Duck), Sgeulachd Ieremiah Iasgair (Jeremy Fisher), Na Trì Mucan Beaga (The Three Little Pigs), and The Children’s Illustrated Scottish Gaelic Dictionary.

Fiona McDonald, Director, was born in Knightswood, just outside of Glasgow, Scotland.  She Moved to Canada with her family when she was 5 and grew up in the eastend of Montreal.   She has been singing since she was 5 years old in choirs and as a soloist in amateur productions.   She moved to Glengarry County, Ontario in 1984.  In 1992 she joined the Glengarry Gaelic Choir and 1 1/2 year later became the choir conductor.  Joining the choir enabled her to realize her dream of learning Gaelic and she took Gaelic lessons with Sine McKenna.  She was a member of  Nigheanan Glengarry (The Daughters of Glengarry), a music ensemble of 6  women, whose aim was to preserve their Celtic Heritage, through music and song .   The group performed in Quebec, Ontario and Scotland.

In 2006 she moved to Ottawa and in 2009 she joined the newly formed Ar n-Òran Gaelic Choir.   She accepted the position of Assistant Choir Director shortly after that and in Nov 2011 she took over as choir director.   Fiona won a Gold Medal at Mòd Ontario for singing, was the Ladies Gold Medalist at Mòd Canada 2009 & 2010 , then competed at the American National Mòd in Pennsylvania  and won 3 Gold Medals and 1 Silver and now holds the title of Ladies Gold Medalist for 2010.