Statement on the passing of Rita MacNeil from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality

April 17, 2013

SYDNEY, NS – Flags will fly at half-mast at Cape Breton Regional Municipality in honour of the life of Cape Breton singer and songwriter Rita MacNeil.

Mayor Cecil Clarke said MacNeil's influence and success inspired many.

"Her humble and soft-spoken approach, even during great fame, endeared her to all. She was beloved by so many. On behalf of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, I offer our sympathies today to her family and friends."


MacNeil was a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia. Her rise to international stardom played a key role in expanding the influence of Cape Breton music.

Councillor Ivan Doncaster represents Big Pond, the small community that Rita MacNeil made famous.

"Rita loved to sing, she loved Cape Breton and she loved Big Pond. She was always considerate of others. She never forgot where she came from, in fact, she celebrated it," said Doncaster. "She has made her community proud."

Doncaster remembers when she opened her Tea Room in Big Pond.

"Visitors from away were so awed that she was there herself, greeting people, sitting and talking with people. She was so approachable."