Ride for Refuge

Crystal Murray, from left, Cathy MacRitchie, Shauna Heighton and Andrew Parsons are pictured during the 2020 Ride for Refuge, where the team bicycled from Tatamagouche to Pictou. The team is participating in the event this year, although riding on another day from the Oct. 2 event. The team’s donations have already been made to the cause.

(Submitted photo)

A $25,000 fundraising goal is inching closer to within reach for Pictou County Safe Harbour.

Kailee Brennan said the group was at roughly 62 per cent raised as of Sept. 24, with just over a week left until the annual Ride for Refuge fundraising event set for Oct. 2.

“Twenty-five thousand is about the cost for us to sponsor a refugee family for a year,” said Brennan, the local event director, regarding a co-sponsorship program with the federal government. “That’s what we’re hoping to use it for.”

Since 2015, the organization has been able to sponsor 11 refugee families, with the hopes of helping another move to Pictou County in 2022.

This will be the second year Pictou County Safe Harbour has participated in Ride for Refuge, a national fundraiser for charities providing refuge and hope for some of the most vulnerable people on Earth.

Brennan knew of the event due to her previous refugee work in Ottawa and thought it would be a good option for the local group last year.

A lot of the fundraisers were cancelled last year due to COVID-19, so the group participated in Ride for Refuge last year when it was more of a ‘virtual’ option.

“Traditionally Ride for Refuge is a bike ride of 10, 25, or 50 kilometres, and then they added on a five-kilometre walk,” said Brennan. But the event has since shifted to more of a ride “freestyle” that added in a variety of options.

“We have a team—Northern Grit CrossFit—that’s doing a heavy lifting weight event,” she said, about one example this year.

Last year’s event brought in $40,000 for the group. With the event just days away, more than 60 participants were already registered including many former refugee families that have been sponsored by Safe Harbour.

To reach this year’s goal, a number of initiatives have been organized by participants.

On Sept. 29, Pizza Delight on East River Road in New Glasgow is donating 30 per cent of dine-in and take-out sales between 4 and 10 p.m. This is the second year the business has supported Safe Harbour. For those looking to dine-in, reservations are encouraged.

The Commune in New Glasgow is hosting a live concert at 9 p.m. on Oct. 2 featuring Sleepy Kicks and Karol Brown. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds and donations will go to Safe Harbour. Tickets can be purchased online at www.shoeboxstudios.net.

More fundraising initiatives, such as silent auctions of local products, will be announced on the Pictou County Safe Harbour group on Facebook.

Being the event is a ‘virtual’ one, teams are organizing in smaller groups or completing fundraising activities on their own on the morning of Oct. 2, or at another time.

The Jitney Trail in Pictou will be the meeting point for those wanting to connect with other participants. Snacks and water will be available between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., and volunteers will be on hand collecting cash donations.

Participants will also have the opportunity to celebrate together outdoors at Carmichael Park on Oct. 2, 4-6 p.m. Participants will have the chance to have a Syrian snack, made by one of the local families, and take a photo with their team.

All social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

For more information, join a team or contribute, visit rideforrefuge.org/charity/safeharbour.

More information about Safe Harbour’s work, becoming a volunteer, partnering in employment or making a donation, visit pcsafeharbour.ca or email kailee.brennan@pcsafeharbour.ca.


Raissa Tetanish has been a journalist for the past 15 years, and has spent four years as editor of both The Light and Hub Now. She joined the Pictou Advocate in April 2021.