-by Jim St. Clair
Several announcements in recent days have and will continue to have an impact on the culture and the heritage and the growth of Inverness County. For all residents of the County of Inverness, the changes and the new opportunities will affect the activities and the new undertakings.
The End of an Era
After almost 140 years of significant presence in Mabou as well as in the wider county, in the autumn of this year, St. Joseph’s Convent will cease to be an active centre for education, spiritual growth, and individual and group enrichment.
In earlier years, at the old convent building, many students from across the county both boarded as well as attended classes and took private lessons. In later years, many gatherings of religious, spiritual, and cultural nature took place in the newer building after it ceased to provide accommodations for young people.
For many people, in many places, the quality of the leadership and instruction of so many members of the Congregation of Notre Dame are and will be recalled with gratitude.
With considerable appreciation and some regret that the building will be put up for sale, we can say “gratias tibi ago” to the individuals and the organization for the many contributions to the community. We say “farewell” with sadness.
New Chief Executive Officer
As we express our great appreciation to Joe O’Connor for his 40 years of service to Inverness County as director of Public Works and CAO, and admire the many miles he travelled, the many meetings he attended, and the many difficult decisions in which he played a major role; we welcome Keith MacDonald back to Inverness County as the new chief executive officer.
With his roots deep in the lives of early settlers and his upbringing in Mabou, Keith brings to his new office much experience in leadership in economic and social growth. Many years ago, he was active in “Mabou Alive,” a community development initiative.
It is also significant that Mr. MacDonald has two degrees from our Cape Breton University. It is hoped that with the new president of CBU, Dr. David Dingwall, having expressed an enthusiasm for promoting the growth of the university by encouraging more initiatives in all the counties of the Island of Cape Breton, that an increased involvement of the university in Inverness County will actually take place.
It can be said that as more local students take courses and acquire degrees at CBU more graduates will be encouraged to settle in Cape Breton and contribute to the growth of the economy and the preservation of the heritage and culture.
So, hurrah for these two new developments – a new CAO with strong interest in the county and with wide experience in the areas of community growth and stronger alliances with the various sections of the Island of Cape Breton; and a new president of CBU, the first native of Cape Breton to be president of Cape Breton University.
New Memorandum of Association
With much anticipation of new initiatives in public education, in new undertakings in research and promotion of the natural and cultural aspects of activities on the Island of Cape Breton, Parks Canada and the Cape Breton University have announced a three year “Memorandum of Association.”
With many acres of Inverness County under the protection of Parks Canada, as well as in other parts of Cape Breton, this new area of cooperation will provide much information for residents and visitors alike. As well, a number of student “coop” placements will be initiated.
The memorandum will encourage staff of Parks Canada and the faculty of the Cape Breton university to work together with new activities in local communities as well as at the campus. A considerable emphasis will be placed in developing new understandings of the culture of the First Nations people so that better interpretation may be provided locally as well as at Fortress Louisbourg.
This memorandum provides one more opportunity for the people of Inverness County to be in a closer relationship with our island’s university and for the university to come to a stronger awareness of the natural and cultural life of Inverness County.
Changes Taking Place
The year 2018 has brought to the County of Inverness the announcements of many changes, one of sadness, but others of much encouragement for the future. Best wishes to all involved in these many decisions and initiatives.