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Rose Purdy Recreation & Community Centre in Yarmouth officially opened

The Rose Purdy Recreation & Community Centre on the Acadia First Nation reserve in Yarmouth was officially opened Friday, July 20.
The Rose Purdy Recreation & Community Centre on the Acadia First Nation reserve in Yarmouth. - Eric Bourque

Rose Purdy may not have been big physically, but she had a big heart and she cared about everyone, says one of her siblings, Chief Deborah Robinson of the Acadia First Nation, who on Friday helped officially open a building in Purdy’s memory.

 Located on the Acadia First Nation’s Yarmouth reserve, the Rose Purdy Recreation & Community Centre will provide a place for people to gather and to share, said Chief Robinson, who served as emcee for the July 20 opening ceremony.

Purdy was 56 when she died in 2016. She had spent 30 years or so working for the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling Association (NADACA).

“Although Rose was a very small person, she was stronger than anyone I know,” Robinson said. “Right up to the day she died, as she was carrying around her pain pump, fighting her battle with cancer, she didn’t stop. She continued to drive. She continued to answer the emails, the text messages. She continued to work right until she couldn’t any longer.”

Addressing a sizable crowd in the new building, Robinson spoke of her sister’s humility, saying it was Purdy’s nature to think of others before thinking of herself.

“She was kind and empathetic,” Robinson said. “I think one of the things I admired most about her was her strength and wisdom. I learned so much from her. She never judged anybody. Never. She never put herself above anybody. She felt everybody’s life was important.”

Several speakers shared thoughts or memories about Purdy, including Dawna Prosper, executive director of NADACA, who, like Robinson, remembered Purdy as very humble. She said Purdy was “the truest friend that I’ve ever had.”

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, local MLA Zach Churchill, Yarmouth Warden Leland Anthony and Yarmouth municipal councillor Loren Cushing were among those who spoke, offering their congratulations to the Acadia First Nation for opening its new facility and for honouring Purdy in this way.

Said Chief Robinson, “I know, as sure as I’m standing here, that today Rose is smiling the biggest smile ever. She’s smiling down from heaven ... This building represents everything that Rose was: community, family and love.”

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