Nova Scotia

Fort McMurray fundraiser in Cape Breton raises $250K

Cape Bretoners raised $250,000 Sunday night for people displaced by the fires in Alberta.

'What you've done for Wood Buffalo just totally rocks,' Mayor Melissa Blake tells packed Sydney Centre 200

Thousands of Cape Bretoners turned out to help Canadians displaced by fire in Alberta. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

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. 

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.

Watch Clarke and Blake talk:

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.

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