Cornwall looks to the future on five year anniversary of the Cornish being granted national minority status

On the fifth anniversary this week of the Cornish being recognised as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Council and partners are calling on the UK government to deliver on their responsibilities. 

Being recognised as a national minority means that the Cornish have the right to express, preserve, share and develop our distinct culture and identity.

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Since 2014 much has been achieved in Cornwall but there is still more to do including pressing Government for the right for the Cornish to be given the chance to identify themselves as Cornish in the 2021 Census.

Jesse Foot, Cornwall Councillor for St Germans and Landulph is chair of the Cornwall Council led Cornish Minority Working Group, which co-ordinates activity and proactively supports Cornish culture, language and heritage.

“Whether you identify as Cornish by birth, marriage, ancestry or some other route you have the right to be recognised, for services to be planned, and for funding to be sought on this basis.”

“We’ve been working hard with limited resources to raise awareness of the Cornish as a national minority.  The UK government has to fulfil its responsibilities so that the Cornish are treated equally with the other Celtic nations.”   

The Cornish Minority Working Group has supported tangible projects like Golden Tree’s touring ‘Cornish Embassy’ bus which proved to be incredibly popular as part of the Man Engine Resurrection Tour and last year’s Royal Cornwall Show. 

Jesse adds:  “The enthusiasm of those who identify as Cornish saw hundreds of people flock to celebrate their identity with a Cornish passport as they loudly and proudly declared their Cornishness. An overwhelming 96% of visitors passing through the bus over three days at the Royal Cornwall Show supported the inclusion of a tick box on the Census, sending a clear message to the Office for National Statistics that there is strong support.”

Another project that has worked to raise Cornish cultural awareness in schools is run by Azook who reviewed what resources are available to and required by teachers to support the promotion of Cornish culture in schools.   Government support in resourcing the teaching of both Cornish culture and Cornish language in schools is needed to make more progress in this important area.

Promoting the Cornish language is a part of the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities and Cornwall Council has been taking the lead and setting a positive example by adopting and delivering a Cornish Language Plan. 

Jesse explains:  “The Council promoted the use of Cornish through its Cornish Language Plan, with an updated version due to be considered by Cabinet at their next meeting.  Because of the withdrawal of government funding to support the Cornish language, Cornwall Council has been funding low cost ways of promoting the language such as through the use of Cornish on street signs, on its offices and other Council owned buildings and in its publications.  The previous plan has seen other positive results with, for example, Golden Tree working with 20 schools to regularly teach Cornish and develop a website – -  to promote learning Cornish.”

“In fact the interest in learning Cornish has increased, fostered by great use of the language in advertising campaigns by Kelly’s Ice Cream and by FlyBe on the recently launched Cornwall Airport Newquay to London Heathrow route.   We are working with partners to increase access to learning Cornish through technology and face to face.”

We have some exciting developments coming to fruition including the opening of Kresen Kernow in Redruth later this year which will provide a state of the art home for the world’s largest collection of historic documents relating to Cornwall and will attract a wider audience to celebrate and share in Cornwall’s rich and distinctive history. 

There are also plans for Cornwall to host the first UK National Minority Summit this summer to bring together representatives of all of the UK’s national minorities – including the Scottish and the Welsh.  It will look to strengthen links, look at future opportunities and examine the role the Framework Convention has played in helping to develop and share our distinctiveness.

Cornwall Council’s Deputy Leader, Julian German welcomed the achievements of the last five years and said that Cornwall would continue to press for greater recognition as a distinctive minority group within the UK and beyond, including making the case for the provision of a Cornish tick box on the Census.

He said “In the last five years, thanks to initiatives like the Cornish Embassy ‘tick box’ bus, we have been able to raise awareness and help many communities celebrate and take pride in our culture.  We deserve the same recognition as other Celtic nations by having a Cornish identity tick box on the Census. We will continue to press for this to ensure that government and public bodies will have better information when making decisions that affect Cornwall.”


Story posted 26 April 2019