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Shelley Allen is a Northside Changemaker

Shelley Allen is a Northside Changemaker

Shelley Allen is a changemaker. This is her story: ( cue intro music).
Interview provided by Northside Rising, an Inspiring Communities nested initiative.

Tell me a little bit about yourself 

Well, I was born in the United States, but grew up here and came back after school.

I have a Bachelor in Music Education, Masters in Music Therapy… music is my passion. When I moved back home my sister and I took over a music school called Take Note Music School, in Sydney. We worked there for thirty years. 

Five years ago the school closed and since then I have been a Music Therapist, as well as a performer. I sing and play guitar for Hells Bells. 

A lot of the work I was doing took me places such as the Regional Hospital, RELAYS, and Breton Ability. After COVID hit, that all changed and although I am still doing part time music therapy, I’m looking to change tack a little bit again. 

How did you hear about this program? What drew you to applying? 

I heard about it from a fellow changemaker! 

After COVID hit I was looking for ways to get involved in my community, I had/have been working with the Ally Centre and just saw such a need for more art-based services in marginalized communities. 

I began hosting jams on Fridays at the Ally Centre. Whoever wanted to be part of it was welcome. I really started noticing the talent people had, when given the chance to play the guitar again, to sing, to take the time to express themselves creatively. Even the people who were not directly in the jam were vibing while on the computer, calling out song requests. 

I just saw all the talent and thought: they don’t have access to the equipment, to the space. I began thinking what a space would look like where people could access that kind of thing. This program gave me a chance to explore that idea. 

What do you love about the Northside? What makes it special? 

I feel in some ways I’m just getting to know the Northside. I’m in Big Bras D’or and most of my work was in Sydney, however the Northside has always been my neighbour and I love that people on the Northside are community minded, a little tighter. 

When you think of the word Changemaker, does anyone you know come to mind?

Right away? Dorothy at Community Cares. She has been advocating for change and support for so long. I recently met Lawrence Shebib for the Food Bank through the Changemaker Program. He is a great example of a changemaker… promoting positive change. 

What are your hopes for the Northside? Why is that hope important to you/ the community? 

I like to see the Northside have more hope, we are aiming for that – to give some hope back to the community. There are already Changemakers giving the community hope, it’s about elevating, supporting and adding to those voices. It’s so Important for families, young people, to see hope and encourage people to stay . 

Northside Rising Logo

Rapid Fire Questions

Fill in the blank: Vulnerability is _______________ 

Oh dear- your inner self 

You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat. What’s the first thing you do? 

Stop, breath and think 

What is something that people often get wrong about you? 

Well I am inherently shy, so some may get the feeling I am standoffish? maybe? 

What’s the last show that you binged and loved? 


Give us a film you really love? 

The Wizard of Oz 

What’s your favourite meal? 

Something Italian – spaghetti – no meat though! 

What’s on your nightstand right now? 

Books, and a telephone, old fashioned… and an old fashioned alarm clock.

Give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy?

Leading a music group, making connection, creating music. 

What is the one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now?

To be living here in Cape Breton during a pandemic. 

 (Adapted from Brene Brown Rapid Fire Questions)

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