Local citizens were honored for their work by an international peace organization at Peace Arch Park on June 30.
Delegates representing the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run hosted a ceremony in the shade of the Peace Arch,
celebrating the successful completion of the Northwest leg of the race. Runners from Blaine and White Rock met in the center of the monument, bearing torches and accompanied by runners carrying flags from a dozen other countries.
Christina Alexander, founder of the U.S./Canada Peace Arch Anniversary Association, ran the torch in on the Blaine side, alongside members of the Blaine Boys & Girls Club. Young MacKenzie McRoberts, representing the 10th Legion Scouts of White Rock, ran the torch in from the Canadian side.
The Peace Run has been held internationally since 1987, when Sri Chinmoy, a musician and activist, founded it in cooperation with the United Nations. The race is held simultaneously across dozens of countries around the world in a symbolic gesture of world peace. In North America, the race begins and ends in New York City, tracing a 12,000-mile path around the lower 48 states, parts of Mexico and Canada. This year marked the first time the race incorporated all three North American countries.
Runners from the U.S., Canada, Russia, Iran, Slovakia, Italy and many other countries attended the ceremony and taught the audience the word for “peace” in each of their respective languages. Some of the runners have been traveling with the race since it left New York in April.
White Rock mayor Wayne Baldwin and Blaine mayor Harry Robinson were on hand to reaffirm the longstanding peace
between U.S. and Canada.
“We have the longest undefended border in the world, and we’ve enjoyed a lasting peace with the United States ever since we beat you in the War of 1812,” Baldwin joked. He cited Robinson as an exemplar for the spirit of peace between the two nations, since Robinson holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada.
“Peace is a very important concept for our citizens,” Robinson said. “We’ve lived side by side for over 200 years. We’ve set an example that the rest of the world could really benefit from.”
The ceremony also honored this year’s local recipients of the Torch-Bearer Award, which is given out each year to community members who have inspired others and contributed towards the cause of peace. This year’s recipients were Peace Arch International Park manager Jason Snow; Bob Hines, who organized the Hands Across the Border event for many years; Jerry Gay, a Pulitzer-prizewinning local photographer; and Richard Clark, a local historian and author who passed away in 2012.
“It’s really nice to see all these Peace Arch Park people being honored for their work,” Alexander said. “There are lots of people who do things behind the scenes, and we see the result of their work but we never actually get to see how hard they’ve worked.”
Alexander, a Torch-Bearer Award winner in 2012, was singled out several times throughout the ceremony for her hard work with the Peace Arch International Park. She received a commemorative certificate for her participation in this year’s race, signed by each of this year’s runners.