The Dominican Republic has become something of a frequent destination for students of Alexandria-based École Le Relais.
Religion and geography teacher Hubert Gauthier says he’s been taking students to the Caribbean nation for more than 10 years so that young people can spend their March break volunteering their time and seeing how other people live.
This year, only six students went. Although Mr. Gauthier says he usually brings twice as many students, he adds that it was still a productive week.
“We stayed at an orphanage and we did some gardening, construction and we also painted a park,” he says.
They also visited a school where they did some tutoring, worked in a bakery and did more construction.
Also on the agenda was a trip to the sugar cane fields so they could see how the workers lived and a trip to the town of Higuew so they could visit a slum.
The latter was a real eye-opening experience as students witnessed families living in decrepit huts, surrounded by garbage and raw sewage, forced to prepare meals outside.
They also visited a free trade zone, complete with sweatshops. Mr. Gauthier says they weren’t allowed to visit the sweatshops because the people who run them wanted to hide what was going on inside. All in all, Mr. Gauthier says the students learned a lot. “They saw a different culture,” he says. “Down there, they don’t have all the gadgets we have but instead, they value their human relationships.”
Bethune makes big time
One of early Glengarry’s leading religious figures recently got a shout-out in the The Montréal Gazette.
John Bethune, who was born on the Isle of Skye in 1751 before immigrating to North Carolina, moving on to Montréal in 1779, and settling in Glengarry a decade later, is mentioned in John Kalbfleisch’s Second
Draft history column in the March 6 edition. Entitled “The story of Montréal’s first Presbyterian Church,” the piece talks of how Rev. Bethune helped establish that denomination’s first congregation in the city before accepting a call in May 1787 “to serve the Highlanders and other Protestants who were rapidly settling the Glengarry district some 50 miles west of Montréal.”
It also notes how he oversaw the building of Presbyterian churches in Williamstown – where he lived – Lancaster, Martintown and Cornwall.
Rev. Bethune also resumed duties as a military chaplain with the local militia – after serving in that capacity for the British army during the Revolutionary War.
In his column, Mr. Kalbfleisch recalls a story of the reverend’s service in the War of 1812, when, during the raid on Ogdensburg, N.Y. in February 1813, he spurred on the Presbyterian members of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles militia unit as they charged more than a mile across the frozen St. Lawrence River, “waving his Bible while his friend, Father Alexander Macdonell, did the same for the Catholics with his crucifix.”
Often referred to as the ”father of Presbyterianism in Ontario,” John Bethune died in September, 1815 at the age of 64.
Gilles’ Barber Shop in Glen Walter is a little quieter now that Tischa, the daschund/Jack Russell mix who greeted customers for more than a decade, has passed on.
Tischa’s former owner, barber Chris Bourgon, has tied his dog’s collar around one of the chairs as a memory to her.
Tischa had been sick for some time and was in a great deal of pain. Mr. Bourgon had to have her put down last Saturday.
He says there’s a new dog at the barber shop, a daschund/Yorkshire Terrier mix named Dexter. Unfortunately, he’s a bit more shy than Tischa and does not venture into the barbershop very often.
Pancake Day nets $20,000
We sure were delighted to hear that the sixth annual Derick’s Pancake Day, which took place earlier this month in Ste. Anne-de-Prescott, raised more than $20,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Named to honour the memory of Derick Cardinal – who died eight years ago when he fell through ice at the age of 22 – the event has been growing more and more popular with each passing year.
Derick’s mother, Joanne Cardinal, says that when the family first started holding the fundraiser six years ago, they thought they’d be happy if they could raise even $300. Instead, they wound up raising $5,000. In the crowd was Mike Wlotzki, fund development director for Make-A-Wish, Eastern Ontario, who said, “We have no territorial representation in this area except for Joanne and Réjean Cardinal and they have found children who qualified for a wish who might never known that we existed. It’s all about community.”
The event includes a silent and live auction and one dollar pancakes.
WISHES COME TRUE: Thousands of pancakes were flipped and hundreds of litres maple syrup flowed at the sixth annual Derick’s Pancake Day fundraiser at Le Sucrerie du Ruban, Joanne and Réjean Cardinal’s sugar shack in Ste-Anne-de-Prescott. Over 700 people, many from Glengarry, attended, helping to raise a record $20,530 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Eastern Ontario, in memory of the Cardinals’ son, Derick, who died accidentally in 2006. Joanne and Réjean pose with their son, Alex. The event also featured all-day live musical entertainment.
DOWN SOUTH: Shown in front of the NPH orphanage in the Dominican Republic are Le Relais students (back row) Jessica Sarault, Christine Bellavance (adult chaperone), Alyssa Rochon, Charlie Parent, Tommy Lamontagne, Hubert Gauthier (teacher). Front row: Francis Leroux, Audrey Levert.