Tell me a little bit about yourself
Hello, My name is Cindy Allen and my pronouns are she/her. My background is primarily music, in various capacities. I ran a music school in Sydney for about twenty-eight years with my sister (Shelley Allen). We have since moved on from that, giving me more time for more projects such as this program!
I have a grown daughter and a three-year-old granddaughter who is the light of our lives. They recently moved back last summer. I’m so happy to be in spaces such as the Changemakers Program, working towards shaping a good future for my family here in Cape Breton.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
I like the mornings. I am an early riser. In all honesty, I used to blame it on the cat or dog—but I have accepted that it’s just me.
I really enjoy having a quiet space in the morning. It’s protected time, and sacred to me. So what makes me jump out of bed is just knowing I have that space to myself first thing.
How did you hear about this program?
There was something I read on Facebook about Northside Rising that got me interested.
My sister also did the program, and Dinao is my neighbor — it seems so long ago I don’t actually remember. But a lot around me has directed me to this program.
Could you tell me a little bit about your project?
Hepatitis C is a silent killer. People who inject drugs (PWID) are at high risk of contracting and transmitting the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). While accurate screening tests and effective treatment are increasingly available, prior research indicates that many PWID are unaware of their HCV status. Drug-injecting individuals often have poor access to primary care, or those who have less education may encounter significant barriers to routine HCV screening.
My project is centered around promoting the testing and offering honorariums to individuals who get tested through the Ally Center Mobile Bus Program.
How did your project begin, what made you start thinking about it?
Over the years, through my involvement with music, I have done many benefits for the Ally Center. I got involved back when they were still the AIDS Coalition, and as well during the transition to become the Ally Center we now know.
I’m in and out of North Sydney with work, and I saw the Ally Center Mobile Bus (offering support services, testing on site, referrals, safe supplies, naloxone kits, a street nurse and housing support) in the parking lot and thought it was a really important service for our community.
I saw they moved to a very open parking lot and wondered if the space prevented people from using the service. It’s a wonderful thing to have available — but some things are not working. With my project, I started thinking of ways to support them.
I connected with the staff and started by asking what they needed and we decided on a testing blitz which focused on getting people tested for Hep C.
When you think of the word Changemaker, does anyone you know come to mind?
Someone who commits to a project and follows through. Someone who uses their powers and skills for good in their community.
I think of Tom MacNeil at the Cancer Centre. I see him as a true Changemaker. He is a social worker in Sydney. With his work, he set up different art programs for people who use the Cancer Centre. He also helped set up the patient care fund, which helps administer funds directly to patients in need.
What are your hopes for the Northside?
That it becomes once again a vibrant, proud community, one that has opportunity and reasons for people to stay here.
What is your best tip for making the world a better place?
Be kind, be fair, be respectful — for other people, for other people’s feelings and experiences in the world.
Can you give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy?
Many. Most recently, having my granddaughter come stay with me and being able to put her to bed. We read books, cuddle and talk about the day. I am so glad we are able to do it, and we are not missing those moments. It gives me hope for the future, having them back here.