Fort McMurray fundraiser in Cape Breton raises $250K
'What you've done for Wood Buffalo just totally rocks,' Mayor Melissa Blake tells packed Sydney Centre 200
Cape Bretoners raised $250,000 Sunday night for people displaced by the fires in Alberta.
The sold-out Sydney Centre 200 event featured Cape Breton talent with an all-volunteer cast including Matt Minglewood, Bruce Gouthro, the Men of the Deeps, the Aaron Lewis Band and the Jordan Musycsyn Band. Comedians Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison hosted.
More than 5,000 people paid $20 each, and all that money went to Fort McMurray via the Canadian Red Cross. Another 10,000 people watched live online and donated thousands of dollars.
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Cecil Clarke, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, couldn't contain his excitement.
"Huge, huge, beyond-expectation night. I'm not going to be able to sleep because my face is sore from smiling," he said. "This is just phenomenal."
He called Melissa Blake during the show. She's the mayor of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray.
Clarke told her Nova Scotians have benefited from working in Alberta in good times and wanted to help during this bad time.
"I can't wait to thank the fabulous folks of Cape Breton," Blake said via a cellphone held up to the mic.
"I know you sound so far away, but you are close in our hearts. You have done an amazing thing. Fort McMurray, we have your sons, we have your daughters.… Sorry, are we on live?" she said to laughter.
"I can hear so much fabulous energy in that room! What you've done for Wood Buffalo just totally rocks."
'This place was electric'
Clarke said the crowd was the second-largest ever gathered at the venue.
"To have her break down and cry of the amount of support and the outpouring of love for Fort McMurray and that whole sense of being Canadian was there tonight — you could feel it. This place was electric," he told CBC News after the show.
Blake Aucoin bought a ticket. He once worked out West and found the show powerful.
"When the music started I was asking her for Kleenex. I'm like, 'Oh my God,'" he said.
Michelle Jetha was also in the audience. "I felt like the emotions would be very high tonight, I love the lineup and I love the cause," she said.
Fred Lavery organized the musicians.
"This is a testament to the power of music and community. When those things come together and people have a desire and a will to help, amazing things can happen," he said.
Givin' Back to Mac concert raises quarter of a million dollars. $252,00.000 <a href="https://t.co/EvNy25WGGK">pic.twitter.com/EvNy25WGGK</a>—@njmacphee
MacArthur Dancers join the Barra MacNeils during the Givin' Back to Fort Mac sell-out concert at C200. <a href="https://t.co/EeqnS0SEr7">pic.twitter.com/EeqnS0SEr7</a>—@njmacphee
Bruce Guthro and the Men of the Deeps at the Givin' Back to Mac concert. Two standing ovations already. <a href="https://t.co/PFnjV8wyBS">pic.twitter.com/PFnjV8wyBS</a>—@njmacphee
5500 people pack into C200 for the Givin' Back to Fort Mac fundraiser concert. <a href="https://t.co/UwTEUQjCe1">pic.twitter.com/UwTEUQjCe1</a>—@njmacphee
Concert goers in Sydney waiting for the Fort Mac Fundraiser concert are lined up several blocks. <a href="https://t.co/yEy0Vx2yPa">pic.twitter.com/yEy0Vx2yPa</a>—@njmacphee