Evangeline students put love of music to work for bus driver after cancer diagnosis

·3 min read
Tracy Arsenault says she’s truly touched by the École​ Évangé​line students' efforts. (Tracy Arsenault - image credit)
Tracy Arsenault says she’s truly touched by the École​ Évangé​line students' efforts. (Tracy Arsenault - image credit)

A former P.E.I school bus driver and step-dance coach says she is "blown away" by a musical fundraiser dreamed up by a group of students from École Évangéline in Abram-Village.

Tracy Arsenault of Cape Egmont was a bus driver serving the school for nearly 20 years, until her cancer diagnosis last year. She spent 89 days in hospital as doctors treated her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Her cancer is now in remission. But the disease took away her ability to walk and she now uses a wheelchair to carry out her daily tasks.

Looking for a way to help Arsenault, the Évangéline students formed a band of eight musicians and released a fundraising CD of six classical Acadian and cover songs, called Des vieilles nouvelles.

"They called me to see if it was OK to do that and I said, 'Well, sure I love music and I have two nephews on the CD so yes, it's an honour.'" said Arsenault, who attended this week's CD launch featuring a live performance by the students.

"I was so impressed with the students, with their knowledge … so professional. I was blown away."

Jaden McInnis, a Grade 11 student at École Évangéline, says it’s an amazing opportunity not only to be on stage and to have his work on a CD, but also to help someone who is a friend to so many people at the school and in the community.
Jaden McInnis, a Grade 11 student at École Évangéline, says it’s an amazing opportunity not only to be on stage and to have his work on a CD, but also to help someone who is a friend to so many people at the school and in the community.

Jaden McInnis, a Grade 11 student at the school who performed as a drummer on the CD, said they found it "very special" to perform the songs while helping someone who is a friend to so many people at the school and in the community.

"We couldn't do much stuff in the community, because of COVID and all that stuff, but this was something possible to do," said McInnis.

"I'm really happy that we got to do something for her."

All aspects of the six-track French-language CD were handled by the students, from the vocals and music to the production and promotion.

Five hundred CDs were produced and are being sold for $10 each.

All aspects of the six-track French-language CD called 'Des vieilles nouvelles' were produced by the students, from the vocals and music to the production and promotion. This is a look at the CD cover.
All aspects of the six-track French-language CD called 'Des vieilles nouvelles' were produced by the students, from the vocals and music to the production and promotion. This is a look at the CD cover.

Arsenault has had to spend thousands of dollars upgrading her Cape Egmont home, including adding a wheelchair lift, widening the doorways, and making changes to the bathroom and kitchen so it is wheelchair accessible.

Chuck Arsenault, a music teacher at Évangéline, said the students came up with the fundraiser idea all on their own.

Tracy was always one of the first to volunteer her time to come and transport the kids. - Chuck Arsenault, music teacher

"Tracy is a well-known member of the artist community up here in the Évangéline region, well-known step-dance coach — actually, some of the kids that are in the class now, she would have taught how to step dance — and being a bus driver at the school, some of the kids would have been on her bus over the years," said the music teacher.

"Anytime … I've had the opportunity to take the kids for this or that concert or this or that artistic event, Tracy was always one of the first to volunteer her time to come and transport the kids."

In addition to the CD launch, the local community has also launched a $50,000 campaign called, "Let's do it for Tracy."

Donations are being accepted at Évangéline-Central Credit Union in Wellington.

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