Annual MORE run set for May 1

Sueann Musick
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PICTOU – Twenty-five years ago, Henderson Paris laced up his sneakers and set out on a 38-mile run with four other people in effort to stop racism and discrimination. 

The fanfare was low, but the message remained strong… everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  

“I certainly like to believe life it is fair because 25 years ago when my initiative first started, it wasn’t at all like this,” Paris said while speaking to a large crowd gathered at Pictou Academy for the kickoff the annual MORE run. “That is how it has evolved. That is how from grandparents, parents, and children, the message has spread loud and clear.”

Paris is one of three honorary chairs leading the way for the annual run that has gone from being named the Run Against Racism to the Marathon of Respect and Equality.

He organized the event for 20 years with his wife Carol and then handed the reins over to Peter and Diane White. The May 1 event will touch the county’s five towns with a special stop in the Pictou Landing reserve.

There have been a few minor changes in the details of the event over the years, but Paris said the message has stayed the same.

“We want to be a society free from racism and discrimination and free from other things that we hold in us that shouldn’t be there. We should treat everyone with the upmost dignity and respect at all times,” he said. “We should walk in a path that should be inclusive for everyone. We should welcome outsiders with open arms. We should want to play in a playground where everyone is friendly. We should want to be in an organization or an official event for the betterment of all.”

Henderson shares the co-chair honours with Jeff MacLean of Michelin, which as been a long time supporter of the event, and Margie Grant Walsh of Big Brothers Big Sisters, who is representing the community portion.

Paris said the fact that Grant Walsh’s sister, Verna Van Bommel, was a big supporter of his cause early on makes her involvement even more special.

Van Bommel was the first woman to run 38 miles with Paris and she ran in his last run under the Run Against Racism banner five years ago. Van Bommel passed away after run, but Paris said she continues to be an inspiration to him.

“She was so strong and such a kind and great person,” he said. “ Those kind of people have motivated me all these years and it is the impact from someone like that who wants to be with you and gives you everything. There is a lot of emotion and a lot of things in my head today, but in 25 years, I am comfortable in the fact of knowing we are in a better place.”  

In honour of Paris’s accomplishments, a scholarship will be awarded to a student from the Pictou Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in his name.

The Henderson Paris Leadership and Courage Award is a special recognition created by the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Trenton, Pictou, Westville and the County of Pictou, in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Community College Foundation, to a student who has created an atmosphere of positive change within our community.

“Henderson, you have created great change during these past 25 years but we know this a long road on which we must still travel and continue to effect change,” said New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan.

Following a presentation to Paris’s wife Carol, local municipal leaders and Pictou Landing First Nations Chief Andrea Paul signed a proclamation declaring their support for the MORE event. A student proclamation was also read and students attending the event were encouraged to sign it before they left auditorium.

The MORE event will begin in Pictou early in the morning and finish in New Glasgow around suppertime. There will be stops in many towns as well as Pictou Landing First Nations.

“The MORE event is truly a Pictou County event and from organizers to sponsors to our communities – we are united and resolved to eliminate racial discrimination,” said Municipality of Pictou County Warden Ron Baillie. “Together we are a village. Together we will make a difference.” 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College Foundation, Pictou Academy, Michelin Big Brothers Big Sisters Pictou Landing First Nations

Geographic location: Pictou County, New Glasgow, Stellarton

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