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Pictou County steps up: locals taking part in provincial conference

NEW GLASGOW - Instead of fearing change, a crowd of about 80 local people were embracing it Tuesday during a provincial Stepping Up Conference.

Local community groups, business leaders and government officials at all levels attended the Stepping Up conference at the Pictou County Wellness Centre that shone the spotlight on positive examples of a more collaborative, innovative and self-reliant Nova Scotia. 

“Nova Scotians are ready and willing to make this province what it can be,” said Danny Graham of Engage Nova Scotia said, who addressed about 800 people from the South Shore to Cape Breton via video conference.  People met in various locations to share their own ideas after Graham set the tone for the need for change in the province. 

He stressed the importance to unify, to relish what it has but not be afraid to change to make a difference. 

“We need to be clear in what it means to be a Bluenoser,” he said. “We need to be clear on what we tell the rest of the world.  Step up, not give up.”

Those in attendance agreed saying that they need to “let go of old ideas and old ways”, and stop the “silo” thinking. 

“We need to celebrate our successes and not be so jealous of each other,” said one member. 

Guest speakers were from  Pictou County 2020, One Pictou County, the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Pictou County and PULSE Pictou County. 

Local author Sheree Fitch spoke about how the Support Our School committee worked hard to keep River John School open by working with community groups and bringing people together.  In the end, the school board vote ended in a tie of 8-8 so the school will close, but the fight is not over, she said. 

The SOS committee has requested a meeting with the premier, but more importantly it has brought together a community that is willing to keep the fight going. 

“We brought eight people into our dream, our vision,” she said.

The theme throughout the provincial conference has been to keep positive, to work with others, ask for help when needed and don’t be afraid to work outside the boundaries. 

“We tried new things at the chamber that were a risk and that worked out,” said Pictou County Chamber executive director Jack Kyte. “You have to do that. You need a positive attitude. It certainly helps.” 

The STEPPING UP conference continues this afternoon with more local discussion and a video conference with Ray Ivany, author of the Ivany report.

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