Scotchfort haunted house leads to 5 truckloads of food donations

·3 min read
The chief at Abegweit First Nation says he is overwhelmed by the support for a local annual Halloween tradition.  (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)
The chief at Abegweit First Nation says he is overwhelmed by the support for a local annual Halloween tradition. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)

They say it's haunted — that big yellow barn on the north side of Route 2 in Scotchfort, P.E.I.

Less than a week ago, the sound of screams leaked through its walls as people eagerly waited for a chance to come face-to-face with the scary creatures inside.

But Thursday morning was a different story. Spooky masks were set aside — for the most part — and a tremendous amount of packed grocery bags sat in front of the building.

"I'm very proud of the community," said Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould.

"We felt it was important for us to share who we are as a community of giving. That's our tradition, that's our culture that our ancestors and grandparents have taught us."

Free admission

For the last 12 years, Ella Gould has set out a big Halloween display for kids in the area to explore. Over time, it expanded to be called the Chief's Haunted Barn.

"There is no price," said Chief Gould.

"I think when you have a chance to help somebody, sometimes listening, talking or giving what you have is better and more important than money."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

Instead, the community asked visitors to bring a donation that could be dropped off at the Charlottetown food bank after Halloween.

The public did not disappoint. As community volunteers gathered to load the donations into the back of two half-ton trucks one thing became obvious: "We're going to need another truck," laughed one helper.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

One by one people grabbed handfuls of groceries as someone hopped in the cargo bed organizing the bags like a game of Tetris.

"There's no more room back here," he said.

"It's a good thing you're a little fella," the others joked without skipping a beat.

'Just unheard of'

Within minutes it was clear, once again, another vehicle would be needed.

Community member C.J. Cleal volunteered his without hesitation, only to be greeted by the loud grunts of the group when they realized they would actually be unloading an assortment of items from the back of his truck first.

After a couple of cheap jokes and even more laughs, the tailgate was closed and a final vehicle took its place.

"We collected five truckloads, which is just unheard of," said Gould. "We got two truckloads last year. It just shows how it's grown … we've got rave reviews."

'Very proud'

Nearly 20 people volunteered at the Chief's Haunted Barn this season, he said. Some helped with contact tracing, others worked to setup the display and the rest played actors inside.

"We have a lot of culture, rich history," he said.

"You only ever hear negative things, and the media only reports on things that are of importance at the time. There's a deep cultural history. There's traditions in our community that should be shared."

In a single file, the five trucks followed Gould out onto Route 2. Next stop, the Charlottetown food bank.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

Back in Scotchfort, while the yellow buildings still read "Chief's Haunted Barn," plans are already underway for Christmas celebrations.

"We're lucky in the Abegweit First Nation to be in a situation where we can give back," said Gould.

"And I'm very proud of that."

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