By Darren Lum
The Gull River received a bright and colourful reminder of the man that gave so much of his heart to make Minden a place for everyone.
The late Sinclair Russell, who was a man with a megawatt smile and a personality to match, was honoured with a rainbow bench by Minden Pride on Tuesday morning, May 18.
Located along the Riverwalk, close to the sawyer sculpture by the bridge in town, the bench will be an everlasting reminder of Russell’s efforts to brighten his home community.
It’s been almost a year since he died on May 23 from natural causes after a brief illness.
He’s gone, but will never be forgotten by the people he knew and those he helped with volunteer efforts, with Russell lending the talents that earned him a highly respected design career.
He was often at public events he spearheaded to help promote the area, or at the local food bank working to help those in need, and also created Minden Pride, as its co-founder with Bob Baynton-Smith.
Minden Pride chairperson Allan Guinan said it was important to acknowledge Russell’s effort for not just starting Pride, but also in how he contributed to the spirit of inclusivity for Minden.
“He’s a very, very colourful character and so it’s very appropriate I think to have a Pride bench in Minden that is bringing that colourfulness to Minden,” he said.
On the bench is a metal plate with words in relief, stating “Donated by Minden Pride in memory of our co-founder Sinclair Russell.”
There is hope to have a dedication ceremony for the bench when the provincial lockdown is lifted, possibly during this summer’s Minden Pride events.
Pride past-chairperson David Rankin said this bench symbolizes how important inclusivity was to Russell.
“That was a really important goal for Sinclair. So something here in a really public place and a place where the community uses I think is very important that they see that he had involvement in the community this way,” he said.
Rankin said the arrangements to make the bench started last June.
This project received funding through the CEF (the Canadian Experiences Fund), a federal government program to support communities across country with the creation and enhancement of tourism products, facilities and experiences.
Pride’s Jackie Wells said Russell often walked to a friend’s along the Riverwalk out of town and when he returned he would often stop for a break to catch his breathe where the bench is located now.
Guinan said a short homage video has been commissioned featuring Russell, which is being produced by Sticks and Stones Productions. The plan is to have it ready to see on the Minden Pride’s new yet-to-be launched website during International Pride Week at the end of June. Keep up to date with the screening through Minden Pride’s social media platforms.
Guinan said this rainbow bench is a strong statement for Minden and its dedication to inclusiveness.
“It shows visibility in the community, which is important all year long,” he said. “Which is something he wanted.”