Joella Lynn Foulds

Cape Breton University is honoured to celebrate the accomplishments and career of Joella Foulds, a well-respected leader, visionary and community volunteer, who has had a deep impact on the cultural economy of Cape Breton Island with her talent, professionalism and commitment.

Joella Foulds was born in British Columbia and raised on a farm in Manitoba. She and her husband moved to Cape Breton in 1978. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Social Work degree from Dalhousie University, with a focus on community development, research and policy analysis.

For 15 years, Ms Foulds worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She held various roles, including broadcast journalist, morning radio host, writer, documentary producer and interviewer. Prior to working with CBC, she spent time working as a medical/psychiatric social worker and as Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Nova Scotia. Throughout her career, Ms Foulds has also been a part-time singer, musician, songwriter and actor.

It is her passion for the arts and culture that led her to become more involved in these sectors. In 1994, she served as Event Coordinator for the East Coast Music Awards (ECMA) and a year later she became President and Co-owner of Rave Entertainment Inc., making her role in music and entertainment a full-time commitment.

It was during this time that Ms Foulds played a key role in developing the concept of the Celtic Colours International Festival. It is this great accomplishment which has made her a household name in the Cape Breton and arguably in the international Celtic Music community, for promoting Celtic culture and music. She has served as Artistic Director of the Festival from its inception in 1997 to the present. Celtic Colours, with the leadership and vision of Ms Foulds, has become known around the world as a showcase of Cape Breton’s music and cultural talent. To emphasize just how great the impact of the festival is, in 2010, it attracted over 18,000 attendees, who spent over $6.2 million in the region. This success is the result of the hard work, dedication and commitment of Ms Foulds and the team she has developed.

Playing an active role in the development of the cultural sector in Cape Breton and contributing to the community are very important to Ms Foulds. She frequently organizes, produces or performs in fundraisers for a variety of charitable causes, including Transition House, churches and local food banks. She is also a sought-after guest speaker.

Ms Foulds is currently Chair of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council. She has previously held roles with the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Arts Award Foundation, ECMA Association and the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia. Her great effort and accomplishments have not gone unnoticed; she was awarded the ECMA Builder Award in 2000, was inducted into the Cape Breton Business Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Cape Breton Tourism Hall of Fame in 2011 and has won numerous awards for Celtic Colours.

Ms Foulds resides in Boularderie, NS, with her husband, Jim. They have two sons, Jamie and Matthew, and four grandchildren.

Cape Breton University conferred the degree Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, on a woman who has a passion for the culture of Cape Breton, is an extraordinary asset to our community and who has made a significant impact on others with her talent, Joella Lynne Foulds.