The following is a summary of events to date on the journey to creating a vocational school in the mountains of Haiti in memory of Sgt. Mark Gallagher who perished in the service of humanity during the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010.
The Gallagher School Project has been supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the tune of $789,134 on a 1:3 formula. FMG’s contribution is $263,000 for phase one, construction. Phase two, furnishings and equipment, has begun and the cost analysis is in progress but preliminary estimates suggest that nearly $500,000 in cash and in-kind donations will be needed.
There are three major partners in this project with several supporting partners including the RCMP, NBCC and its Francophone counterpart, CCNB. The three founding partners are Friends of Mark Gallagher (FMG), based in Woodstock, N.B.; AQANU (Association Quebecoise pour L’Avancement des Nation Unies) from Quebec and the Little Sisters of St. Theresa, (PSST), the order of nuns in Riviere Froide with and for whom the school is being built.
The independent Canadian technical authority for the project, as required by CIDA, is Dr. Eugene Lewis, former Dean of the Engineering faculty at UNB. His Honor, Graydon Nicholas, Lt. Governor of N.B., is the Honorary Chair of the project.
Fundamental Principle: The Gallagher School is a collaborative project with the three partners. The fundamental principle under which we operate is that, as much as is possible, it is Haitians who should benefit at every level. Thus the main engineer, Michel Rouzier Guillaume, is Haitian as are his workers. The Director of the school is Haitian as will be all of the teachers. Wherever possible all equipment and supplies will be purchased in Haiti to allow us, even if only a little, to stimulate and contribute to the Haitian economy.
Within days of the earthquake in Haiti, the Friends of Mark Gallagher was formed in Carleton County to build a school in memory of Sgt. Gallagher, a resident of Northampton, a few kilometers southeast of Woodstock. Richard Blaquiere, co-chair and president of FMG soon enlisted the aid of Woodstock businessman, John Slipp, as co-chair to share the leadership of the project with him and together they forged a committee of largely Carleton County residents who would work together to achieve their goals. Contact was made with the Canadian Teachers Federation (also supporters of the project) who put FMG in touch with AQANU and from those contacts, the dream of the school began to take on shape and a form.
Sr. Gisele Chaperon, our key contact person in Haiti had earlier met with peasant groups who would be served by the school, to seek their input. There are four families or clusters of courses that include “construction, commerce, domestic and agriculture.” These clusters will look like this:
Construction: carpentry, electrical, plumbing and masonry; Commerce: Bookkeeping and marketing; keyboarding and other computer related skills; Domestic: Clothing repair and clothing design and creation; Agriculture: Horticulture and soil management
Where We Are Now
The original projected dates for the beginning of construction and the opening of the school have been delayed for a number of reasons. CIDA, given that it is taxpayer’s money that supports their projects, has been quite rigorous in its demands before giving the green light to start construction. A major environmental impact assessment was announced AFTER we received news of AQANU’s successful application for the grant and this has impacted the timetable dramatically. The final submission on that report is due to be sent the week of December 5. Construction is expected to begin in early January.
My Haiti Walk
Charles McNair is greeted by New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas at Mount Carleton. From left, Nicholas, McNair and his wife Melody and Nicholas's wife Beth. (Photo Submitted)
Charles McNair, of Bath, is doing a two-phase walk in an effort to raise awareness about Haiti and the Sgt. Mark Gallagher Vocation School project. McNair already walked across the International Appalachian Trail from Northern Newfoundland to Mount Carleton where Lieutenant-Governor Graydon Nicholas, who is the Honorary Chairperson of the Sgt. Mark Gallagher school project, and Tobique-Mactaquac MP Mike Allen congratulated him on his journey. The second phase of the walk will begin in the spring from Mount Carleton to Key west, Florida, from where Charles will make his away to Haiti.
Three RCMP organized Gala events have been held in the past fourteen months. The galas, in Woodstock, Halifax and Moncton have raised over $50,000 for the school project. Future major events are being planned for Bathurst and Campbellton early in the new year.
Donations for the school can be sent to:
Friends of Mark Gallagher
Lenehan, McCain and Associates
389 Connell St.