ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Gets the scissors ready.
The official opening of the East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre is taking place this Friday, Nov. 30, starting with a meet and greet at noon.
The home of the Antigonish Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch #59, the centre is located at 75 St. Ninian Street, the former National Philatelic Centre building.
The meet and greet will be followed by the ribbon cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. and then messages will be delivered by the following individuals; project manager and ceremony emcee Kuli Malhotra, CACL participant Christina Richards, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey, Municipality of the County of Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron, Town of Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher, East Coast Credit Union CEO Ken Shea, legion manager Alex Cameron and CACL executive director Jeff Teasdale.
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided as the formal part of the ceremony concludes and the socializing continues; all in celebration of a unique and beneficial partnership between two organizations, and the building they now share to mutual benefit.
Malhotra said the partnership is being recognized nationally as a model to be followed.
“It’s basically being seen as a Canada-wide innovative project,” he said. “There are 30 some agencies in Nova Scotia like this and seeing the partnership between Antigonish CACL and the legion has created an opportunity for all of these agencies.”
Malhotra noted the Corridor Community Options for Adults organization in Enfield as an example of a similar organization to the CACL, which has already started down the road of following the model developed in Antigonish.
“They’re in the process of developing their plan,” he said. “So it’s people looking at this partnership based model and the fact of what it actually does for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Amongst the improvements for the CACL and its workers, as they made the short but necessary move from nearby Kirk Street, was the expansion of working spaces such as their kitchen and woodshop.
“The folks who are working there are creating manufacturing opportunities; wood products are a big one, on a national and North American scale,” Malhotra said.
“To have these opportunities means we can create products in Nova Scotia. Ability Wood Products Cooperative has been created already; there are eight members of which the CACL is one of those. So working together to manufacture wood products, which would support the market here in Nova Scotia and beyond. There is a lot of stuff around this … it’s huge.”
In talking about other benefits to the new building, Malhotra noted its accessibility compared to the former building the CACL called home.
“It’s 100 per cent accessible and it, certainly, has added to the visibility [of the organizations],” he said. “Not just because of the fact the CACL is operating out of it, but because of the social enterprise abilities of the building.”
It was just last August when it was announced East Coast Credit Union, recognizing the strength of the partnership and social enterprising initiatives, made a contribution of $100,000.
“It’s huge for us; it’s the largest non-government donation we’ve received, so it’s very, very humbling,” Teasdale said at the time, adding they would have been competing with other deserving groups from all over Atlantic Canada.
“They’ll see the social return on that investment for sure.”
Mary Oxner, chair of the East Coast Credit Union board of directors, also spoke during the announcement, noting they were “delighted” to support the union “of these two great organizations.”
“They both help so many people in our community,” Oxner said. “This is a fantastic representation of what community can be.”