Cherry Paris

Cherry Margaret Paris

1936 - 2024

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Obituary of Cherry Margaret Paris


NEW GLASGOW - Cherry Margaret Paris, age 87, passed away on February 11, 2024 at Glen Haven Manor surrounded by the love of her family.  Cherry was born in New Glasgow – she was the third in a family of ten children to her parents Freeman (Pete) Paris and Violet Agatha (Jewell) Paris.  Cherry traced her roots to the “Free Blacks” of Guysborough County.


Cherry had a happy childhood and learned what competition, sharing and caring were at an early age.   She was acquainted with poverty and struggle but was never in need of the basics of life.  Cherry always felt mature beyond her years, largely attributed, she believed, to her place in the family.  Cherry always had a passion for books which later led to her being a voluminous reader of books of a wide degree of varied interests.  In her early adult years, Cherry was taken with the realization of the absence of people of her colour in positions of employment and of authority.  As time evolved, she longed for change.  As a teenager, the job market was closed to Black youth.  This led to her performing odd jobs of washing windows and floors and washing dishes in a restaurant.  At one time she longed to become a nurse despite never seeing a Black Nurse.  The offer to teach presented itself, so she leaned in that direction.  She began teaching at Lucasville where she taught Grades Primary to Seven inclusive on a Permissive License.  Grades 4-7 were taught in the morning, and Grades Primary – 3 in the afternoon.  In respect to teaching, a former Supervisor of Schools, Elizabeth Orchard told her, “It is not how much is covered that is important, but how well.”  These words of wisdom have always been Cherry’s guideline.  Cherry graduated from the Provincial Normal College – Class of ’55.  She went on to teach in Upper Hammonds Plains, then to Pictou County where she taught at MacLellan’s Brook, Pictou Landing and Temperance Street School (the latter for four years).  The latter gave her the distinction of being the first permanent Black Teacher to teach in New Glasgow.  This came at the request of the Superintendent of Schools, Colonel L.M. Rhodenizer, who said it was, long overdue, and before he retired, he wanted to pioneer a Black Teacher.


During the time she taught school, Cherry was also actively involved in the Church and community organizations – i.e. the “Y”, the Emergency Measures Organization, and a Bi-Racial, then Interracial Committee.  In later years she attended Dalhousie University Summer School for four summers, finishing with a Certificate in Intermediate Education.  She also served as a Supply Teacher in Salisbury, New Brunswick following several years teaching in Bermuda.


In 1970 Cherry’s interest changed in other directions.  She began assessing the status of Black people in Nova Scotia and wanted to collaborate with others who desired to effect change.  The status of Black people showed her that practices of racism in this province were both personal and institutional.  This led to her joining the staff of the Black United Front of Nova Scotia having been encouraged by her late sister, Mary, to apply.  The position was that of Field Organizer.  She started work on her birthday, June 23, 1970.  Cherry worked the Section 3 Region that consisted of Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou and Antigonish Counties.  She successfully organized 6 committees – 3 Youth and 3 Adults to assist her with her mandate.  This position lasted for 27 months.  Cherry moved to Bermuda where she continued to teach school at West Pembroke Primary.  She returned to Nova Scotia two years later.  Cherry worked for the Canada Employment Centre in a term position.  She later worked for Doubleday Canada Ltd. selling school textbooks throughout the Maritimes.


Cherry worked as Supervisor of Child Development at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children for 8 months.  When Paris Lane (named in honour of our sister, Mary Paris) was unveiled by Akoma in Dartmouth in 2023, Cherry received honourable mention. 


In May of 1978, Cherry began her position as Regional Supervisor with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission for Digby and area.  There she remained for 18 years.  Her mandate there was to enforce the N.S. Human Rights Act Legislation.  She spent years investigating allegations of violations under the Act.  The work was, at times, labour-intensive.  Bringing about awareness of a person’s rights kept her engaged.  A highlight of her life was being a Banquet Speaker for the Order of Canada recipient, the Rev. Dr. Donald E. Fairfax.


Cherry has always emphasized the fact that awareness in education is a major task that needs to be addressed if we are to recognize the interdependence of all peoples and to learn from each other.


Throughout her life, Cherry had a profound Christian faith.  She was a student of the scriptures and read her Bible consistently.  She did not compromise her principles nor her faith. Cherry led by example.  She inspired many people to get their education and to do better.  She sought to unify people not to create dissension.  Cherry’s life and purpose transcended age, colour, gender, culture, and all other characteristics.  Cherry gave unconditional love and compassion and expected nothing in return.  Her smile was infectious. Cherry emphasized the importance of Lifelong Learning.  She leaves behind her beloved family and a huge network of lifelong friends across the province and beyond.  A favourite scripture of Cherry’s was Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (NIV).   She believed what this scripture said and this became her compass in life.

Her Church activities have been locally, provincially, and inter-denominationally. 


She had the distinction of being a “PILLAR” of her Church.  She has served as Sunday School Teacher, Choir member, Deacon, CGIT Leader, member of the Ladies Auxiliary, President of the Women’s Missionary Society, Social Action Committee of the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces, Social Action Committee of the Pictou County Council of Churches, member of the Pictou County Fuel Fund. She has supervised youth groups, conducted Vacation Bible School; served on the Executive of the AUBA of Nova Scotia as Youth Fellowship Supervisor; served as the first female Clerk of the AUBA of Nova Scotia;  Chairperson of the Education Committee, Chairperson, of the Scholarship Committee, and Chairperson of the Historical Committee, Cherry was an Executive Member of the African Baptist Women’s Institute; she wrote a Brief History of the United Baptist Churches of Acaciaville and Greenville; served as Secretary-Treasurer of the East Preston Local of the N.S.T.U.; Founding Member of Juniper Housing (a safe haven for abused women (D.A.W.N.) Member of Digby/Annapolis Women’s Network  Committee; Board Member of Growth Opportunities (about Economic Development); served on the Local Drug Dependency Committee, Digby Domestic Violence Committee; Special Olympics Committee; Board Member of Public Legal Education Society of NS; Board Member of Education Incentive Program for Black Students; Board of Directors NS Home for Colored Children; Board of Directors of Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia; Lay Member of Acadia University Senate; Inducted into the Dr. W.P. Oliver Wall of Honour; BYF Oratorical Contest Winner at local, Regional and Convention levels (Acadia University venue); Author of 2 Books entitled “Unclouded Day – a brief account of the Black Loyalists (1983) celebrating the United Empire Loyalists Bicentennial and (2) A Brief History of the Windsor Plains United Baptist Church; member of the RCMP Advisory Committee on Visible Minorities;


Responsible for the formation of Windsor District Community Improvement Association;


Rejuvenited Acaciaville – Conway Youth Organization


Responsible for the formation of the Pursuers Society of Pictou County (focus – improving Housing, Education and Employment for Blacks


1 of 3 NS Women featured in A Women’s Almanac of the Atlantic Provinces (for 1994)


Member of S.W.O.R.D. (So-West Organization for the Rights of the Disabled


Fundraiser for CNIB, Canadian Cancer Society, United Way


Organized “Children’s Candlelight Vigil” in Digby


Facilitated International Women’s Day, Persons Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Coordinated Workshop for Citizens Forum, submission forwarded to Ottawa


Member of National Committee for the James Robinson Johnston Chair of Canadian Black Studies (Dalhousie University)


Participated in celebration of Teachers of Segregated Schools


Contributor of Articles to local media on Women’s Issues, Black History


Coordinated meetings re public legal education needs


Served as Panelist on “The Rights of Young Children” at Seton Academic Building at Mount Saint Vincent Campus


Assisted with the co-ordination of Youth Conferences with Director of Canadian Council of Christians and Jews


Participated in “Rally for Survival in Digby”


Guest Speaker at Annual Women’s Day Service at the Baptist Church in Hamilton, Bermuda


Cherry also gave addresses to University groups, Municipal Units, School Boards, Schools, Adult Education Classes, Physically/Mentally Challenged Groups / Clubs, Employee groups.  As well – she was a Member of Retired Government Employees Union, Member of Kaye Livingstone Visible Minorities Women’s Association, Member of the Historical Committee for the Town of New Glasgow, and former member of the Head Start Program in New Glasgow, member of the Africentric Park Committee. She was a Guest Speaker at the Run Against Racism in New Glasgow.


Cherry’s interests have involved teaching, writing, advocacy, research and public speaking.  Cherry has been afforded many accolades, awards and distinctions for the work she has done.  These have come from the following:

  • Acaciaville United Baptist Church, Digby, NS
  • Ladies Auxiliary and Board of Deacons, Second United Baptist Church
  • Baptist Youth Fellowship of the AUBA
  • Black United Front of Nova Scotia
  • Numerous Lions Club Certificates for Human Rights presentations to the Town of Digby, Handicapped Organizations Promoting Equality (HOPE)

She was also featured in a collection of speeches on the Universality of Human Rights and the Black Experience by the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia.  The scope of Cherry’s work and influence has been abundant. 


Cherry was a wonderful blessing and comfort to all.  She exhibited an unwavering strength of conviction.  She firmly believed in building bridges not walls.  Cherry was truly an ICON who left an indelible mark on those she touched.  She has made a significant difference in this world.  She knew that most changes are preceded by struggle, but working together can be effective.


Cherry always remained optimistic about the future, especially when people willingly began the change that was necessary.  The future of her community, province and the world in general was always foremost in her mind as she passionately worked diligently and untiringly to effect improvement in so many areas.


 Surviving are siblings, Rev. Dr. Peter J. (Adrienne) Paris, Middletown, Delaware; Herb (Monica) Paris, Oakville, Ont.; Sandra “Sandy” (Bent) Andersen, New Glasgow; Beverley “Debbie” Bonvie, New Glasgow; Henderson (Carol) Paris, New Glasgow; sisters-in-law, E. Joan Paris, New Glasgow; Sharon Paris, North Bay, Ont.; Thelma Edwards, New Glasgow; nieces and nephews, Valerie Lynn (David) Dent, New York City, N.Y.; Peter Brett Paris, Princeton, N.J.; Robin (Malik) Adams, Halifax; Jonathan (Elena) Paris, North Bay, Ont; Jordan (Karen) Paris, Stouffville, Ont; Timothy Paris, Ontario; Nigel (Jill) Paris, Milton, Ont; Sandra Paris, New Glasgow; Robin Paris Adams (Malik Adams), Halifax; Marc (Sharon) Paris, Halifax; Deanna (Salem) Mohamed, New Glasgow; Danny Andersen (Lori), Green Hill; Cynthia “Cindy” Bonvie, Dartmouth; Glenn (Amanda) Bonvie, New Glasgow; Jeremy Paris (Jennifer), New Glasgow; Jared Paris (Crystal), New Glasgow; Perry Richard Paris, Halifax; Laurie MacLean, New Glasgow; great-nieces and great-nephews, Lynnette and David Dent, Aalyiah Paris, Tanisha and Tishawna Paris, Lincoln and Sloane Paris, Sydnie and Joshua Paris, Amare Adams, Ahmed (Sumayyah) Mohamed, Brodie and Brooke Bonvie, Hope Buell, Jordan and Kristen Paris and Justine MacLean; great, great-nieces, Mayanna and Ariah. 


Besides her parents, she was predeceased by sister, Mary M. Paris; brothers, Angus F. Paris, Perry D. Paris and C. Francis “Babe” Paris; sister-in-law, Shirley Paris; brother-in-law, G. Ronald Bonvie.




Cremation has taken place.  A Celebration of Cherry’s Life will take place at Second United Baptist Church, 330 Washington Street, New Glasgow on Saturday, April 6, 2024, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Rev. Dr. Peter J. Paris of Middletown, Delaware, USA (Cherry’s brother) will Officiate at the service.  Private interment will be in Lorne Street Cemetery, New Glasgow. Repast to follow in the BH Lawrence Hall downstairs.


Should you wish to honour Cherry’s legacy, you may do so in any of the following ways:

  • By donation to Second United Baptist Church
  • By donation to the Pictou County Fuel Fund
  • By attending Church sometime
  • By greeting someone with a smile or a friendly greeting
  • By extending an act of kindness to someone
  • By following God’s Golden Rule… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)


May Cherry rest forever in peace with God whom she served.


Lovingly written by sisters, Beverley and Sandra

Celebration of Life

Second United Baptist Church
330 Washington Street, PO Box 51`
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada