Giving extraordinary kids a chance to be ordinary.

Founder of Brigadoon to be awarded the Order of Nova Scotia

The Province announced on Friday, November 1st that Brigadoon Village’s Founder and Visionary, Dave McKeage, will be receiving the Order of Nova Scotia posthumously. The Order of Nova Scotia is the highest honour of the Province of Nova Scotia recognizing Nova Scotians for outstanding contributions or achievements. The 2019 recipients will be recognized at the 18th investiture ceremony on November 26th, at Province House.

“We can’t imagine a more deserving person than Dave to receive this honour,” says David Graham, Executive Director of Brigadoon Village. “Being inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia is a huge acknowledgement of the impact he had on our province. Those who have been inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia are an accomplished group – which only a few are a part of, and we’re just thrilled that the work Dave did to create Brigadoon is being recognized.”

During his life, Dave was diagnosed with cancer four times. His experience with this disease and the character and resilience it developed in him, shaped his dream of building a place where children living with health conditions and other life challenges could experience the joy of camp, the comradery of others with similar experiences, and a changed perspective on themselves. A place where these extraordinary children could experience the transformational change of being ordinary.

In 2001, Dave began to tell others of his dream, in 2008 the Building Brigadoon Campaign began, and in 2011 Brigadoon opened its doors and welcomed its first 38 campers with Crohn’s and Colitis to its Guts & Glory program. Since then, the impact of Brigadoon has gone beyond what anyone ever dreamed possible. In 2018, Brigadoon Village became the largest pediatric illness camp program in Canada, and this summer they welcomed 782 campers into 14 programs.

Dave demonstrated his quintessential Nova Scotia values by holding tight to dreams and their pursuit, despite great adversity and an unwavering commitment to serving others, while making Nova Scotia a better place.

“Dave’s vision has created a place where children are transformed,” says Graham. “At Brigadoon, they are given a sense of their true potential, and where they realize they are not defined by a diagnosis. Our province will be impacted by Dave McKeage for generations as these children harness this empowerment given to them at Brigadoon and go on to change the world.”

Though we lost Dave in December, it was his humility and profound gratitude combined with his endless optimism and resilience that are the lasting legacy for all who had the privilege of knowing him. He has inspired thousands of Nova Scotians, and in particular, extraordinary young Nova Scotians who live with chronic illness in demonstrating that no dream is too big, no obstacle too great, no person too insignificant, and no child unable.

Known for never being afraid to dream big, Dave always saw the potential for Brigadoon to “do more” and improve to meet its fullest potential. We continue to move Dave’s vision of Brigadoon forward. Announced in August, an arts and music centre will be built at Brigadoon called Dave’s Place to commemorate him at the Village in a way that captures his love for music and the arts.

We are incredibly proud of our friend and colleague Dave McKeage, for all that he did for Nova Scotia, Brigadoon, and all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.

To see the full list of recipients, please visit the Province’s announcement here.

On Tuesday, August 27th, Brigadoon Village, along with family, volunteers, campers, and community leaders, gathered to announce the creation of Dave’s Place – a new arts centre at the camp that will celebrate and honour the memory of Brigadoon’s Founder and Visionary, Dave McKeage.

The new arts centre is designed to bring campers together to create and imagine, whether it’s with clay and pottery, paint and canvas or instruments and dancing. Dave’s Place will feature a ceramics studio, a music studio, and a messy arts room, and will be the centrepiece at Brigadoon Village where kids will gather to express themselves in a fun, accessible environment.

Dave McKeage was never afraid to dream big. It was McKeage’s own battle with cancer that prompted him to spend many years working to open Brigadoon Village. With over 800 kids attending camp this summer, Brigadoon Village is now Canada’s largest pediatric illness camp and offers 14 camp programs which are designed to accommodate a health condition or other life challenge for kids aged 7 to 18. Brigadoon is guided by the core values of sustainability, compassion, partnerships, empowerment, accountability and innovation. Brigadoon provides extraordinary kids a chance to be ordinary through an amazing camp experience and has hosted over 3,500 campers in its nine years of existence.

Also announced was that long time Brigadoon supporter Peter Kohler is giving $200,000 towards Dave’s Place. Peter wanted to help commemorate Dave at camp, so he came forward as a catalyst for starting the project. We immediately starting consulting with Dave’s wife, Krista, and other family members and close friends and this beautiful legacy was conceived. Music and creative expression filled Dave with joy. This was part of his dream for Brigadoon.

With the support of our partners, we offer 14 summer camp programs for children and youth living with health conditions and other life challenges.

Did you know that Brigadoon is open year-round for groups and facility rental? Experience Brigadoon while supporting a great cause!

Our donors and volunteers truly are the heart of what we’re doing, and we’re grateful for each and every one of them!

We’re there for kids because you’re there for us.