Highland Clearances memorial
A statue commemorating the achievement and resilience of the many Scots who left the Highlands and Islands during the Highland Clearances was unveiled today by First Minister Alex Salmond.
At Helmsdale in Sutherland Mr Salmond said:
"This statue is not only a reminder of the highland clearances, but a great example of the skill and vision of those who remain. This is an impressive work of art that will strike a chord with every Scottish family domestic and abroad. It is a shared understanding that defines a culture and our is made even richer today.
"This statue is a reminder of the men, women and children who left Scotland and took their skills, their strength and their stories across the seas and shared them around the world. While we deplore the clearances we can be proud of the contributions that those cleared have made to humanity.
"The Scottish Parliament has rightly apologised for the highland clearances, acknowledging our debt to those who left these shores. But apologies, statues and memorials are not enough. We need to engage with our history and learn from it.
"That's why it's important that this statue is being unveiled together with the launch of an academic lecture series. Lectures delivered by people with experience of the land and insight about the past will allow us to learn lessons and move forward."
The lecture series was launched as part of the UHI Millennium Institute's Centre for History as part of InvernessFest and Highland 2007.
Prior to the statue unveiling Mr Salmond said:
"I have watched the UHI grow and develop and am particularly interested to hear about the new honours course available in Scottish history. I'm sure this course will build on the UHI's strong track-record of sending confident students forward into training and jobs.
"I continue to support the UHI in all of its ambitions, and hope that I will have the privilege of attending it's inauguration in the future. I know it can be frustrating to go through such a rigorous process, but it is that rigour that allows us to know that it is something really special to become a Scottish university."
The statue was commissioned by the Clearances Centre Ltd, a charitable company established to celebrate the achievement and resilience of the many Scots who left the Highlands and Islands during the Highland clearances.
The statue was created by sculptor Gerald Laign, based in the Black Isle. The statue shows a family group in bronze. It is ten feet high and stands at the mouth of the Strath of Kildonan.
The plaque on the statue's plinth reads:
Commemorates the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland who, in the face of great adversity, sought freedom, hope and jusice beyond these shores. They and their descendants went forth and explored continents, built great countries and cities and gave their enterprise and culture to the world. This is their legacy.
Their voices will echo forever through the empty straths and glens of their homeland.