Brodick Stewart takes a ride on therapeutic riding horse Phats. (Lisa Pink photo)

Sisters continue to be vital part of Therapeutic Riding

The CTRA grew to become a nationally-renowned equine assisted therapy organization

By Anne Muir

The Sisters of St. Ann played an important role in the history of the Cowichan Valley and B.C.

The congregation was founded in 1850 by Blessed Marie Anne Blondin in Vaudreuil, Quebec, and has served the Pacific Northwest since 1858. In 1864, the Sisters purchased 400 acres near Duncan, now known as Providence Farm.

The property was settled in 1867 and used primarily as a boarding and day school until 1964. The farm owes its name to one of these “pioneer” nuns, Sister Mary Providence.

In 1979, the Sisters played an integral role in the formation of the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association (VIPCA), an organization serving adults with developmental and age-related special needs.

Under the stewardship of this new initiative, Providence Farm became a secular therapeutic hub in the Cowichan Valley, home to several organizations including the Cowichan Folk Guild, School District 79’s Alternate School, and the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association (CTRA). In 2009, ownership of Providence Farm was officially transferred to VIPCA, to mark the organization’s 30th anniversary.

The CTRA was one of the first external organizations invited to become a tenant and community partner on Providence Farm. CTRA moved to the property in the late 1980s, and together with VIPCA (and thanks to the support of many contributors) built the Providence Farm Therapeutic Riding Centre. CTRA still operates out of this facility, working in symbiosis with the farm’s programs and other tenant organizations.

From humble beginnings, the CTRA grew to become a nationally-renowned equine assisted therapy organization recognized as an examination and training centre by the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.

CTRA is the only centre in Western Canada to hold this level of accreditation. These days, CTRA welcomes more than 100 participants with a wide range of special needs every week, running some 3,500 hours of therapeutic service every year.

Ever since CTRA first arrived on Providence Farm, the Sisters have contributed to the organization in one way or another. In recent years, the Sisters have continued their support through financial contributions to projects and programs.

In 2015, the Sisters helped CTRA complete their new outdoor riding arena — significantly enhancing the organization’s ability to keep pace with a growing user population. Since 2017, the Sisters have made annual grants to CTRA through the Esther’s Dream Fund (held by the Victoria Foundation). In 2018, the Sisters donated $12,000 to CTRA. These yearly contributions support CTRA’s equine-assisted therapeutic services and are essential to keeping CTRA’s services accessible for individuals and families with special needs.

“We are honoured to continue our partnership with the Sisters of St. Ann,” says Anne Muir, executive director for CTRA. “The Sisters have played a huge role in helping CTRA become the organization we are today.”

Sister Pat Donovan, vice president with the Sisters of St. Ann, says, “The Sisters believe that each person has the dignity of a child of God and deserves to have the opportunity to develop to her/his full potential. These same motivations impel the Sisters of Saint Ann today to provide resources to help individuals to attain the fullness of life and foster communities that support the dignity of all persons. The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association enhances the lives of children and adults who are especially vulnerable.”

The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association is open to the community daily. The public is encouraged to visit the facility, meet the horses, and check out the association — along with all the other programs and organizations that call Providence Farm home. Walking tour signs are placed throughout the farm’s grounds to help visitors make the connections between past and present, and better understand the Sisters of St. Ann’s legacy in our community.

Just Posted

Andrea Rondeau column: I’ll beg if I have to, to get you to vote

Please, please, please mail in your vote in the proportional representation election.

Sarah Simpson column: Cowichan sure knows when to step up to help

Shortly after my birthday last year I wrote a column about gifts.… Continue reading

Cowichan United seeing positives despite results

U21 team falls to Lakehill, but coaches see improvement

T.W. Paterson column: The story behind the lost certificate, conclusion

In early March 1915 the 5th Bn. was near Estaire, France and several men had already been shot.

Caps fall to Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday night

Clippers’ tying and winning goals come in less than a minute

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Most Read