For the first time ever, the city of Sydney will play host to a gala event designed to help residents and staff living at L’Arche Cape Breton in Orangedale and Mabou.
Starting at 7pm on Saturday, June 5, the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (Big Fiddle) will feature the talents of L’Arche Cape Breton core members and staff, the music of Joyful Noise, theatre and a video production, as well as a live-auction guided by the quick eye and ears of auctioneer Leo Cox.
Items up for auction at the event set for Saturday, June 5 were donated by businesses from across Nova Scotia and elsewhere including from Prince Edward Island where two nights at Four Seasons Cottages on a beautiful romantic beach will be up for grabs as well as a Baddeck get-away package which includes bed and breakfast at the Dunlop Inn, gift certificates from the Telegraph House, a meal for two at Yellow Cello and sailing on-board the Amoeba this summer.
The works of painter Jan Gyorfi-West as well as hotel stays, auto repairs from local Sydney shops, YMCA memberships, a subscription and framed prints from the Cape Breton Post, legal services from Sheldon Nathanson’s Barristers and Solicitors, bike gear from FrameWork Cycle and Fitness, and lessons, tour and dinner from North River Kayak are among the other hot items up for bidding.
L’Arche Cape Breton spokeswoman Josephine MacEachern said the overwhelming support from businesses including The Giant 101.5 has been an encouraging sign that residents of Sydney too are also willing and eager to help keep the doors open for disabled Cape Bretoners living and working in Orangedale and Mabou.
Many of the L’Arche core members or their families are originally from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Today there are about 60 people living and working at L’Arche Cape Breton.
“There are a limited number of tickets available and they are going fast,” Ms. MacEachern said. “All proceeds Saturday will support L’Arche Cape Breton’s Day Programs, which provide employment for all our residents, as well as numerous individuals with disabilities who live with their families or with other service providers. These programs include a craft studio, two used clothing stores, a senior’s club, a summer day camp for youth, an organic garden, a small bakery, and on-the-job placements in local businesses throughout the rural Cape Breton area. None of these valuable programs receives any government support, despite being widely recognized as some of the best employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Cape Breton. Saturday’s event is designed to help keep the doors open and lights on.”
L’Arche is an international federation of communities founded by Canadian, Jean Vanier. L’Arche Cape Breton began operations in 1983, offering a place for men and women with developmental disabilities to work and live in a peaceful rural setting. Live in assistants help with the routine of daily living, such as helping to cook supper, going for a walk with someone, relaxing and talking together about the day. Deep friendships are formed which is evident to visitors given the constant shared laughter and joy, play, songs and daily conversations.
L’Arche Cape Breton was inspired by the teachings of spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi and his vision of community, offering a life based on simplicity, sustained by meaningful and productive work, and nourished by the mystery of God’s presence in all religions, races and creeds. It is a non-denominational operation however.
Many of the L’Arche assistants are post-secondary students or graduates aged 18 to 30 – who come from all parts of the world to share their life and experience and learn about the community. They develop close bonds with residents and travel to help other L’Arche sites around the world including places like India, South America, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and the United States.
Many Cape Bretoners and passersby first learn about L’Arche when they happen upon The Ark Store in remote rural Iron Mines, Cape Breton.
Just off the highway near Whycocomagh, L’Arche members help run and stock the shelves and racks with a quality used clothing, books, and beautiful L’Arche-made and Nova Scotia-made crafts. Staff put out new stock daily; making sure items for sale are presented in their best form.
Other L’Arche residents work at The Angels’ Loft in Orangedale, opened and named in 2008 for Angela Marie Cormier, a cherished member who died suddenly May 25 that same year. She was a valued employee of the Angels’ Loft workshop where members knit dishcloths, paint, make Christmas crafts, small furniture, shelving, a variety of wood-work, make cook books, button bracelets, jewelry and chop wood. Many items end up for sale at The Ark.
Tickets for this Saturday’s gala event can be purchased at the door for $15 or the Bean Bank Cafe and The Cape Breton Curiosity Shop, both located on Charlotte Street, Sydney. A variety of desserts will be served during the event.
For further information on L’Arche or its upcoming event to help residents, please contact L’Arche Cape Breton at 945-2283.