Members of the L’Arche Cape Breton community are pictured in front of this year’s Christmas tree for the City of Boston.

ORANGEDALE: A tradition commemorating the friendship between Boston and Nova Scotia will soon be celebrated on the grounds of L’Arche Cape Breton, as the local community is donating this year’s Tree for Boston.

“L’Arche has often been on the receiving end as far as donations are concerned, so it’s a good feeling to be able to give,” said Mukthar Limpao, executive director and community leader of L’Arche Cape Breton.

“I believe this is the first time an organization, not a family or an individual, will be donating the tree.”

The Tree for Boston is a deeply rooted tradition in Nova Scotia. The tradition is an annual thank you to Boston for sending medical personnel and supplies to Nova Scotia within hours of the Halifax Explosion of 1917. The first Tree for Boston was donated in 1971 by Joseph Slauenwhite from Lunenburg County.

This year’s tree-cutting ceremony will be held on Nov. 10 on L’Arche Cape Breton’s property in Orangedale. The tree being donated is a 60-year-old, 48-foot white spruce. Should all go according to plan, the tree will reach its destination for an in-person tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Boston Common.

Limpao said he and the rest of the L’Arche community are happy to play a part in the tradition. With that, given the amount of restrictions in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nov. 10 event will be a wonderful opportunity to have a limited number of folks stop by, said Limpao.

“It won’t be a public event, but we’ll be able to welcome board members, families of our core members, assistants, and some neighbours,” he said. “It’s limited, but we’ll be able to have some people spend time with us, and that’s something to look forward to.”

The plan to have L’Arche donate the tree has been in the works for the last three months, Limpao said, then L’Arche representatives were contacted by the provincial government with the news that L’Arche’s offer to send the tree was accepted.

“They wanted to keep it a secret until the official announcement,” Limpao said, adding that the three month period gave him a chance to visit with L’Arche community members to see how they felt about donating the tree.

“A decision isn’t made by one person, and this gave me time to reach out to members of L’Arche Cape Breton to see if this was something we all want to do. It’s exciting, but I wanted to make sure everyone was on board.”

Deputy Premier and MLA for Inverness Allan MacMaster is very pleased to know L’Arche is playing a part.

“The annual tradition of the Tree for Boston is something near and dear to all Nova Scotians,” he said. “It represents how thankful we are to the people of Boston for being there for us when we needed it most. I am so proud that this year’s tree is coming from Inverness County, donated by an organization that does so much in our community.”

Also pleased with the ongoing tradition is Tory Rushton, Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables.

“The Tree for Boston has been a symbol of appreciation, friendship and unity for 50 years,” he said. ”We will never forget the kindness the people of Boston showed Nova Scotia following the tragedy of the Halifax Explosion.”