Henderson Paris, says he was taken aback but honoured when he learned last week that the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service will honour him with the Irving and Ruth Pink Award for Youth Development and Social Justice during the annual fundraising Gala on Saturday at Casino Nova Scotia.
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Paris, a councilor with the town of New Glasgow, said after researching the lives of Irving and Ruth Pink he feels even more of a connection to them and the spirit of the award.
“I am truly, truly blessed and privileged to be the recipient,” he said.
For twenty years, Paris volunteered his time to help the youth of New Glasgow by building their self-esteem and confidence through track and field. He has also been building positive relationships between youth and bringing awareness of the issues or racism and discrimination to the young people with whom he interacts.
Paris, founded the Run Against Racism, a 38 mile run for the youth attending schools in all of Pictou county including the Pictou County First Nations Community. Over the years he has been able to extend this event to schools in Antigonish, Truro and even Japan.
Paris said he always enjoyed track himself and it was natural for him to get into coaching youth. The more time he spent with him, the more he wanted to help them. He wanted to protect them from some of the hurt that he knew he and others had faced, which is why he founded the Run Against Racism. He also wanted them to have a clearer path, he said.
As a Board Member of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Paris was able to participate in conferences aimed at youth, was a guest speaker in schools in the Pictou and Antigonish areas as part of African Heritage Month as well as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He has been featured in numerous articles and publications including Land and Sea in which the Run Against Racism was featured. He has been awarded the Peace Award by the YM/YWCA of Pictou County for his efforts to bring about equality.
But as much as he’s given of his life to youth, Paris says he’s the one who has been blessed.
“Whatever connection I had to young people, I’ve always felt very rewarded in my own way because I’ve learned so much from them. They’ve helped enrich my life for the better.”
Tickets to the Saturday event can be purchased at http://legalwho2014.brownpapertickets.com.