Lucie Cerny has been operating Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals — a sanctuary for farm animals retired from the agricultural industry — for the past 20 years. In all that time, she never imagined she’d meet Ladysmith’s most famous resident, Pamela Anderson.
“It was an absolute honour, one truly beyond words to have the opportunity to host Ms. Anderson, her partner and their young son at our humble little Sanctuary here in Chemainus,” Cerny said in a Facebook post.
Anderson said she was moved by the work that Cerny is doing at RASTA.
“I was delighted and impressed by the peacefulness, happiness of the animals living in communities — not separated like a lot of sanctuaries have,” she said.
“It says so much about Lucie and her small group of dedicated volunteers. These are rescued vulnerable farm animals. Saved from slaughterhouses and other cruel terrible lives. It’s a mini heaven. It is emotional to be there. I look around and I can feel the effort put in to the design of the property. What’s gone into making the animals feel safe and loved. Lucie is an angel.”
Cerny gave Anderson a tour of the property, and after introducing Anderson the various animals at RASTA, pointed out the aging barn that RASTA has been working to replace.
The barn lacks a foundation and is sinking into the earth. It also lacks a proper roof. RASTA has fundraised for the last two years, and managed to raise $100,000 for a new barn. A previous builder had given a quote of $150,000, but after a lengthy mill strike and the pandemic, the new quote soared to $450,000.
“That completely utterly gutted us,” Cerny said.
RASTA was further gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the sanctuary to cancel their farm tours — a major source of funding for the charity.
Outside of farm tours, one of the main fundraisers for RASTA has been sales of a farm calendar. Cerny had hoped that Anderson would sign one of the RASTA 20th anniversary calendars, but Anderson blew Cerny away when she offered to help replace the aging barn.
“I get goosebumps. I get kind of choked up honestly,” Cerny said. “To have somebody of that incredible status to take an interest in what RASTA is and what RASTA has been doing, it was such a tremendous honour to have that validation from someone I look up to so much.”
A few hours later, Anderson returned with her partner Dan Hayhurst — a local builder with DHS Homes. Hayhurst happily agreed to take on the project.
“I was happy and even surprised when Dan told her he’d do it. Now, He is obsessed. He’s making calls everyday. Organizing/reviewing plans etc,” Anderson said. “I love it. I love to turn people on to charity. To do things from the heart and for no other reason. It’s what makes life worthwhile.”
The couple has pledged to do the entire project for a budget of $100,000. Hayhurst has set about finding materials for discounted prices, and has drawn together a talented team to help with the project.
“It’s amazed me how generous this community of people are — all you have to do is ask. Gifts of materials for the build are tax deductible. Services are not. I’m happy to help out free of charge. I’m not expecting anything out of this, but a few happy, healthy animals,” he said.
Hayhurst said that in a few short months, Cerny will have a brand new barn.
Once completed, the barn will house rescued birds, hay, feed, and will act as a quarantine space for new arrivals to RASTA. As it stands now, Cerny keeps the hay in her carport, the feed in her basement, and has a quarantine space in her home for new arrivals.
RASTA Sanctuary is still in need of donations to cover the costs of care for their animals. RASTA is a registered Canadian charity, any donations to RASTA are tax deductible.
For their part, Anderson and Hayhurst said that they are on the hunt for other opportunities to give back to the community.
“We’re looking forward to doing other helpful projects in town,” Hayhurst said. “Pamela always has her eyes peeled. Not sure what I got myself into, but I love it.”