150+ Canadians Day 69: Lewisporte, Newfoundland

Image: Canadian Ex-Pat Network (L-R: Lewisporte resident Cheryl Peckford; first scholarship recipient Raie Lene Kirby; Consul General of Canada Stephen Brereton; Lewisporte resident Rose Heath; Linda Spurrell, Manager Trade Development, Department of Innovation, Trade & Rural Development, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; Delta #15 passenger Sylvia West; Delta #15 flight attendant Sharlene Bowen; and Delta #15 passenger Shirley Brooks-Jones)

Lewisporte, Newfoundland contributed to peace by hosting stranded Americans after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. #Canada150

800 passengers were diverted to Lewisporte where the community of just over 3,000 took care of them for three days. The community set up beds in a high school gym to keep families together. Women who wanted a women’s only facility were accommodated. Elderly passengers were taken to private homes. The community provided bedding, food and entertainment. Each day, passengers were taken on “excursions” to boat tours of the harbor, walks in local forests, tours of the town.

The stranded visitors were driven to the restaurants of their choice and fed. For those who wanted to stay in the school, food prepared by the residents was brought in. Tokens to the laundromat were supplied because the guests’ luggage was still on the plane. “We had everything we needed, even fresh towels every day. It was incredible.” Shirley Brooks–Jones

On the plane back to the United States, Brooks-Jones and other passengers were determined to find a way to thank their generous hosts and decided to start a scholarship fund. Before they landed, they collected $15,000 in pledges. The Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund has now sent well more than 100 Lewisporte Collegiate School students to college and trade schools. More than $2 million has been donated.

The guests have maintained contact with their hosts. Some have returned every year since. The events have even inspired the creation of a successful musical titled Come From Away.

The Order of Newfoundland and Labrador has been given to the community in recognition of this response to need.

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