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Established in 1886, the YMCA of Cape Breton is the oldest, most diverse charity on Cape Breton Island. The YMCA is a volunteer-driven, charitable organization serving several areas of the Island.

With a commitment to nurturing the potential of children, youth and seniors, promoting healthy living, and fostering social responsibility, the YMCA ensures that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive.

Serving over 35,000 individuals, the YMCA of Cape Breton provides vital services such as health, fitness and recreation, child care, education, training and employment programs.  The YMCA is an inclusive organization connecting people to life-building opportunities, to each other and to programs that will enhance their quality of life.

YMCA of Cape Breton

Our Vision

Thriving communities where everyone can shine and feel they belong.

Our Mission
Connect and ignite the potential in people, helping them grow and give back to our communities.

Our Values
Caring, Honesty, Inclusiveness, Respect and Responsibility.

Our Functional Areas
We fulfill our charitable mission by meeting the needs of our community in seven key functional areas:

  • Employment
  • Re-education and Training
  • Child Care
  • Day Camp
  • Wellness and Preventative Health
  • International Development

The YMCA of Cape Breton is a charitable organization with a loyal, dedicated team. It has provided service to the community since 1886. The YMCA of Cape Breton operates a multi-site association providing innovative programs, including licensed childcare, employment and newcomer services, day camps, health, fitness and aquatics.

  • 160+ staff working across Cape Breton Island
  • 3,500+ clients served annually through employment services
  • 4,000+ members using our health facilities and participating in health, wellness and recreational programming
  • 300 children cared for in our early learning centre, after school programming, summer/march break camps and PD days annually

Since 1886, the YMCA has strengthened the foundations of community. By adapting to needs and expanding programs, the YMCA has and will continue to build healthy children, families and communities across Cape Breton.

Steeped in history, Cape Breton has attracted and inspired many inventors, artists and explorers to its shores.  In 1886, one year after Alexander Graham Bell acquired the land for his famous summer estate in Baddeck, the YMCA of Cape Breton began in Sydney.  Providing recreational and leadership opportunities for youth – the YMCA movement continued to grow. 

By 1902, the father of radio, Guglielmo Marconi sends his official transatlantic radio message from the town of Glace Bay.  Just down the coast, the YMCA finds a permanent home in Sydney on a second floor of a Charlotte Street business and expanded its offerings.

Fire would eventually destroy the original location; however, the volunteer men and women from the association quickly found alternate locations to deliver on the charitable mission. During WWI, the YMCA lends support to the war effort and by the time WWII breaks out, the YMCA owns a new building in the centre of downtown Sydney.  Overlooking Sydney Harbour, the YMCA plays a key role in supporting WWII by serving over 600 meals a day to visiting Canadian troops arriving on warships. 

During that same time, the YMCA receives a parcel of land from the Sydney Y’s Men’s Club and establishes Camp Barrachois; a residential camp along the Bras d’Or Lake in Ironville.  For the next sixty years, the YMCA provides overnight accommodation, leadership and recreational opportunities to the youth of Cape Breton.  The demand for financial support continues to grow and the YMCA turns no one away.    

Meeting the needs of the community, the YMCA expands yet again by doubling the size of the downtown main branch in the early eighties.  In 1987, the association expands into Glace Bay with the opening of the YMCA Enterprise Centre and offers employment and entrepreneurship programs. 

In 2007, the YMCA and the Town of Port Hawkesbury establish a membership centre serving the Strait Area of Cape Breton and Mulgrave.  Soon after opening, employment and childcare programs are offered in the Town and surrounding areas.

By 2010, the main branch undergoes a major redevelopment and opens the Frank Rudderham Family YMCA on the original 1940’s downtown location.  The new facility allows the Y to build stronger children and families with expanded programs. 

Today, the YMCA continues to serve tens of thousands of individuals, allowing Cape Breton communities the opportunity to succeed and prosper.

Board of Directors

The YMCA of Cape Breton is driven by a Board of Directors, each of whom volunteers countless hours of their time and collectively bring many years of valuable experience to the Association.

  • Kevin MacEachern – Chair
  • Omar Tag El-Din – Vice Chair
  • Evan Baillie – Treasurer
  • Jill Perry – Director
  • Christine MacDonald – Director
  • Nicole Cammaert – Director
  • Amrinder Singh – Director
  • Emily MacLennan – Director
  • Jackson Tighe – Director
  • Mark Tambal – Director
  • Stephanie Sawler – Director
  • Simran Virdi – Director

Senior Staff

The strength of the YMCA is its people. Our senior staff provide expertise and are dedicated to the mission of the YMCA.

  • Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Cape Breton, Sabrina Vatcher |
  • Executive Director, YMCA Nova Scotia Works Employment Services, Valerie Dolhanty |
  • Director of Member Relations Sydney, Anita Vosman O’Rourke Anita.O’
  • Director of Finance and Administration, Heather Somerton |
  • Director of Early Learning Centre, Amanda Costello |
  • Director of People and Culture, Tanya Wilneff |
  • Building Operations System Manager, Billy Musgrave |
  • Manager of Membership & Group Fitness Tanya Horne |
  • Aquatics Manager, Julie MacKinnon |
  • Manager of Programs, Janice Curnew |
  • HR and Special Contracts, Bev MacKinnon |
  • Manager of Fund Development, Jeff MacNeil |
  • Senior Manager, Childcare Division, Nicole MacDonald |

Our Commitment to Safeguard Children and Youth

YMCAs in Canada collectively commit to the safeguarding of children and young people participating in all aspects of our programs. The ability to enjoy safe environments free from discrimination, threats, abuse, neglect or exploitation is our service commitment. We work hard to ensure that the safeguarding of children and young people is embedded in our culture through ongoing policy, training, supervision requirements, reporting protocols, and facility controls.

If you have concerns about a child, please contact your local child protection agency. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call 1-877-424-1177.

For more information about child safeguarding practices at the YMCA of Cape Breton, please contact our Child Safeguarding Lead, Nicole MacDonald at or 902-270-3359