Ach-Na-Sith Celebration of Remembrance Takes Place Friday, June 16

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) Crossroads Cape Breton is working with Pathways to Employment Cape Breton to celebrate a community space of deep meaning and importance.

On Friday, June 16, the partners will hold a celebration of remembrance on the Ach-Na-Sith property. The site, meaning “Field of Peace” is located in Sydney River. It is a memorial site for patients of the former Cape Breton Hospital, the largest mental health facility in Cape Breton’s history.

“The significance of this quiet event is not lost on those of us who are living with mental illness or who support people who are recovering their life,” says Colleen Cann Mackenzie, Program Coordinator with Crossroads. “So much has changed in the way we, as a community, care for, believe in and support people whose lives are touched by mental illness. It’s important to recognize the tremendous strides we have made in the how we look at mental illness and wellness and how we honour one another’s lives and experiences.”

Ach-Na-Sith is supported by a number of local organizations. In 1999, the site was commemorated by the Mental Health Services Charitable Foundation, a group of dedicated volunteers committed to improving the lives of people affected by mental illness. In 2011, the Charitable Foundation made a substantial donation to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation’s $1.35 million campaign to support local mental health and addiction services. Continuing the Charitable Foundation’s legacy, the Hospital Foundation supports Ach-Na-Sith’s upkeep through the employment of people living with mental illness.

Members of Crossroads, a program with NSHA’s mental health and addiction services, are employed each spring and summer to tend to Ach-Na-Sith’s grounds. This is made possible by a partnership between Crossroads and Pathways to Employment, a non-profit group that offers assistance to those living with mental illness by promoting independence and recovery through supported employment and self-governance. Crossroads provides on-site support while Pathways provides administrative services. Pathways also built and placed benches on the site two years ago.

The Ach-Na-Sith property was owned by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality until fall 2016 when ownership passed to Breton Ability Centre. The centre has long ties with the site and maintains the property in partnership with Crossroads, Pathways and the Regional Hospital Foundation.

Friday’s event will be marked by comments from representatives with NSHA’s mental health and addiction services, the Hospital Foundation, Breton Ability Centre and Crossroads. A tree will be planted to add further beauty to the site. Members, staff and Board colleagues of Crossroads, representatives from Pathways, representatives from Breton Ability Centre and other supporters will also be in attendance.

“Ach-Na-Sith is an incredible example of what is possible when we work together and keep a vision of people working and living full, satisfying, hopeful lives at the center of our efforts,” says Cann Mackenzie “One in five of us will struggle to maintain mental wellness in our lifetime and every one of us will be affected through our family relationships, friendships, neighborhoods and workplaces. In this busy, sometimes unsettling world of ours, it’s important to take time to reflect on the good that is to be found in the people, places and spaces around us.”

This celebration of remembrance takes place Friday, June 16 at 2 p.m. at the Ach-Na-Sith site, 163 Keltic Drive in Sydney River.

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Media Contacts:
Colleen MacKenzie
Program Coordinator
Crossroads Cape Breton
(902) 567-7961

Jacqueline Holmes
General Manager
Pathways to Employment
(902) 539-6262