Faces in the Crowd – Laughter and Friendship

Posted on February 1, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with 2 comments

Living and loving life to the fullest

 

“There is no place nicer in the world than Antigonish.”

Meet Linda Sooley and Rick Asselin.

Linda grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Rick was born in Ottawa. Linda left Newfoundland when she was 20. Her work took her to different parts of Canada. She raised her family in Ontario. One of her jobs was administrative secretary at Algonquin College for an amiable young man by the name of Kent MacDonald. She would become reacquainted with him several years later.

Rick was raised by his grandmother in Hull, Quebec and in his early 20’s; he hopped a train and went out to Vancouver to begin his work career. He was a builder specialist for one of Canada’s major banks. He also had a passion for vehicles, especially BMW’s which he bought and sold.

In 2012, Rick was sitting on a park bench in Aylmer, Quebec mapping out his route to Texas where he was traveling to see his brother. On the other end of the bench sat Linda. They struck up a conversation and he ended up inviting her out for supper. Rick did go to Texas but kept in touch with Linda.

In the summer 2014, now a couple, they traveled to Newfoundland, a place that Rick always wanted to visit. They talked about buying a business together although they weren’t sure what that business would be.

Upon returning to Nova Scotia after a day time sailing, Antigonish seemed a logical place to stop for the night. They booked a room at a B@B in Cape George. When their GPS took them into the country via Hawthorne Street, they were convinced they were on the wrong road. Having remembered a small motel called the Evergreen, they backtracked looking for a room for the night. As fate would have it, there had just been a cancellation and they stayed there that night.

It was love at first sight…. the motel, that is!

Over breakfast, they found out that the place was for sale. They both had a gut feeling that this just might be the right business opportunity that they were seeking. They tracked down the realtor and later that very same day, made an offer to purchase which was accepted. On November 3, 2014, Linda and Rick were officially motel owners.

The Evergreen Inn is a hidden gem. Because of its location, it does not enjoy the visibility enjoyed by other accommodations. But that hasn’t stopped the motel from getting a reputation as one of the premier motels in its class in Canada. Trip Advisor, Canada Select and Trivago all have it near or at the top of their ratings scales.

And how does a small motel achieve such lofty status?  “We pay attention to detail. We will do anything to make a traveler’s stay more enjoyable,” says Rick.

“And Rick has a wonderful sense of humour,” chirps in Linda. “We both like to chat with our customers and are interested in the vocations of many of their guests.”

The couple is here for the long haul. They purchased a property in Cape George and when they aren’t attending to the smallest of detail for the traveling public, they are enjoying the lifestyle of rural Nova Scotia.

It is obvious that they love what they do and have embraced Antigonish, the place they now call home. With laughter and friendship, they have built a solid, profitable business.

May the business remain “ever green.”

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Faces in the Crowd – Rose to the Rescue

Posted on January 25, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Brenda’s Best Buddies

 

“Teaching is the greatest job in the world. You can make such a difference in a child’s life.”

Meet Brenda Rose.

Brenda grew up in the Gaspe, the youngest of three children. There was no running water or electricity in the home. Baths took place in a large washtub in the kitchen by the woodstove. When she was four years old, the family moved to Montreal. There were more job opportunities in a big city after the war and her parents wanted her oldest brother to attend high school there. In spite of their lack of education, her parents were aware of its importance and wanted the best for their children.

Her father worked as a pipefitter in the shipyards and her mother did housecleaning for the wealthy folks of Montreal. Her mother would often come home with toys, castoffs from the home owners. Brenda amassed a large collection of dolls and would often line them up and pretend to be a teacher… a precursor of things to come.

A love of music surfaced at an early age and once again, she and her siblings benefited from the largesse of their mom’s employers. Brenda started taking piano lessons around the age of 8. With no piano at home, she practiced on a cardboard keyboard.

The idea of service to others was ingrained in the Rose children from an early age. Brenda knew (and so did the dolls!) from an early age that she was going to be a teacher. She worked at Morgan’s (which eventually became The Bay) which paid for her entire university career. This also developed a strong work ethic.

She attended Sir George Williams (Concordia) University, the educational institution for the working class. She eventually received her B.Ed. from McGill. She taught for 37 years and in many cases, chose schools that served poorer populations. She realized that she could make the biggest impact on those less fortunate.

She raised two small children as a single parent. Both had allergies, especially to fur. It was no surprise then that the children coveted a dog! In 1992, a story appeared in the Montreal Gazette about Greyhound Rescue Dogs. At the urging of her daughters they went to see them. Neither of the children sneezed or coughed. The children pleaded to take one home. “I thought I had died and gone to hell,” quips Brenda.

And so began a love affair with this special breed of dogs.

Brenda and the children did a lot of camping over the years in different parts of Canada including two weeks every summer at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. She decided that when the time came, she would buy some land and retire in Nova Scotia. In 2005, she acquired land in Cape George, sight unseen. She built a home which has become home to Fable and Queenie, her beloved greyhounds. She also babysits for other people’s greyhounds.

Reflecting on her life Brenda comments, “Not everything I did worked out but at least I tried.”

Brenda has rescued the lives of many of God’s creatures … of the two legged and four legged varieties.

 

Fable

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Faces in the Crowd – Empowering Young Women Around The World

Posted on October 19, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment

 

“ People in Antigonish believe in equality and equal opportunity.”

Meet Hina Shehzadi.

Hina and her four siblings were born in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan. Her father was an auto mechanic. Their mother never had the opportunity to attend school as a child and wanted better for her children. Getting a good education became a priority.

Lyari was a tough part of the city with violence ever present. Hina witnessed injustices perpetrated on the citizenry including women and children. These experiences motivated her at an early age to want to help those in need.

School became her entire focus. There weren’t a lot of opportunities in the school system for anything other than the basics. Extracurricular activities were non existent.  In High School, Hina took courses in economics, commerce and computers with an eye to an MBA and future employment in a bank.

Upon graduation in 2009, she volunteered with a non profit group to try and get her foot in the door for future employment. This led to a job with a local Women’s Resource Centre where her focus was on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young girls. Her work took her to many rural villages in Pakistan where she quickly discovered that there are always people far worse off than yourself.

In 2011 she decided to do a Masters program. In order to make this happen, she worked at a full time job during the day and took public transportation to the university in the evening. Traveling alone as a woman, late at night was an uncomfortable and unnerving experience. She received a Masters in Sociology in 2013. After completing her studies she accepted a Legislative Fellowship in the United States . Most of the time was spent in North Carolina where she got to see some top notch American universities. The idea of getting a PhD. became a long range goal.

She returned home to continue her work with the Women’s Resource Centre. She traveled to Nepal and Thailand presenting papers and doing research on several aspects of women’s rights. In 2015, she traveled to Montreal, Canada to attend the training done by Equitas. One of the stated objectives of Equitas is “ advancing equality, social justice and respect for human dignity in Canada and around the world, through education. “ While in Montreal she met someone who told her about the Coady Institute in Antigonish.

In 2016, she was accepted into the Diploma program. Having spent most of her life in big cities, the drive from Stanfield airport in the dark of night was somewhat disconcerting. All she could see were trees on either side of the highway. She wondered what she had gotten herself into.

She quickly discovered that for all of the apparent differences between Pakistan and Nova Scotia, the one thing that was similar was that Antigonish was family oriented . She immediately felt welcome and supported by the people at Coady and the broader community. “ People seemed genuinely interested in me and were willing to learn more about me and my country.” She found the Diploma program both practical and useful. One of the highlights of her stay was the awarding of an Awesome Antigonish Foundation grant for “ An International Evening With Coady participants” held at St. James United Church.

But her studies were far from over. Encouraged by Joanne Tompkins, she decided to enroll in the Masters of Education program at St.F.X and began the next chapter of her education in January of 2017. The focus of her thesis is a comparative analysis of curriculums in Nova Scotia and Karachi in regards to attitudes of young women to sexual and bodily rights.

Hina’s long term goal remains the attainment of a PhD. and she would like to end up teaching in Canada.

In Pakistan, most women cannot go out of their homes without a good reason like work or schooling. Her freedom of movement in Antigonish has spurred her into wanting to learn how to ride a bicycle.

This bright, engaging woman from Pakistan has the potential to be a “ global change leader” and improve the lot of young women  across continents.

 

 

 

 

 

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