Antigonish town councillor Mary Farrell is seen here delivering baked goods and groceries to students Bridget McCann and Mary Caplice as part of the Neighbours Helping Neighbours program.

ANTIGONISH: A couple from Ontario, who have been profoundly touched by an act of kindness to their son during his self-isolation at StFX, established a bursary as a way to thank the community.

Bowmanville’s Lisa Baker said the bursary would assist a local student in Antigonish to attend StFX and the motivation behind this decision stemmed from how their son, Sam, a third-year marketing and sports management student, was treated during his required 14-day self-isolation upon returning to Antigonish.

“We wanted to say thank you to the community for doing what they did for all of our students coming back to school, most universities in other provinces, kids weren’t able to go back to school,” Baker told The Reporter. “Because of the quarantine process there, and all of the volunteers in the community who helped the kids get through the quarantine by bringing food, and providing support, we just wanted to say thank you.”

After contacting the school and inquiring about a way to donate, and finding that there wasn’t really anything like this in play, she was advised she could create a bursary of her own, and that’s exactly what she did.

Initially, Baker advised they were extremely anxious to send their son 1,741 km back to StFX in the middle of a pandemic, but he wanted to return to campus to continue his studies, but after his community support person reached out, those anxious feelings quickly diminished.

“It eased our anxiety, because I felt safe sending my kid to school, but I know [StFX’s] anxiety and fear of having all these kids coming back to the community was very real,” she said. “So the fact they still opened up their arms and helped everybody despite their own fears, to help people they don’t even know was just so generous and we wanted to just do something for the community.”

Baker advised the Neighbours helping Neighbours program created by the university was vital in her son’s transition back to university-life, highlighting that a week before heading east, her son received a text message from his community support person saying “I’m glad you’re coming, I’m here for you.”

She said that first message gave everybody a needed sense of relief.

“I’m sure there are lots of other parents in the same situation as I am; that they’re just so thankful,” Baker said. “There were six students in a house, who couldn’t get out, they literally needed the necessities to live, and that wouldn’t have happened if these people hadn’t volunteered.”

Details on the bursary are still being worked out but the Bakers are inviting other parents who received similar acts of kindness for their children to join them in supporting this bursary, and donations can be made on the StFX University web site.

“This is a way for us to say thank you to Antigonish for everything you’ve done for us, that we won’t forget,” she said. “We’ll never forget what they did for our kids.”