If Paul's spirit is anywhere it is in these walls – did you know he took a picture of friends on this very spot almost half a century ago and wrote under it that this was to be the site of the new college (Champlain)? And here we are. I'm sure many of you, just like me, still keep expecting to see him at the back of the room, arms folded across his belly, grinning that impish grin. Yes, he's in these walls and in all of you and many more. His friends. His chosen family. Thank you for loving him. It meant the world.” ~ Mary Delaney (sister of Paul Delaney)
Keeping in character with one of Trent's most dedicated and beloved alumni, the Paul Delaney Memorial Tribute “Lessons from Uncle Paul”, brought together people from around the world to celebrate his life and legacy in the Great Hall of Champlain College on Friday March 1, 2013.
Trent University's Founding President and Vanier Professor Emeritus, Tom Symons sent a letter to be read at the ceremony. "Paul was in a very real sense one of the Founders of Trent University. He was a member of Trent’s first year in 1964 who entered with gusto into every aspect of the life of the University. His enthusiasm was contagious. In all the years following his graduation, Paul maintained a lively and supportive interest in Trent, participating in a multitude of events and providing a helpful leadership with a great many of them. Paul’s kindness, good humour, and thoughtful concern will be warmly remembered and greatly missed."
The Trent International Students Association (TISA) Choir performed What a Wonderful World to open the proceedings and director of Alumni Affairs Lee Hays greeted the large crowd.
“Trent University will not be the same without Paul,” she said. “Today's gathering and the stories that are shared by those he impacted so deeply are a testament to the kind of mentor and teacher he was. Paul was a loyal alumnus, very deeply admired and respected by fellow alumni, staff, faculty and students.”
Honorary Degree recipient Craig Kielberger sent a letter which was read at the memorial. “Paul became such a great friend and champion of Free The Children. His contribution to our mission in Sierra Leone was unprecedented and his dedication to giving back to the people of Port Loko was life-changing for so many. His impacts in the region continue to live on and his legacy will be felt through the children and families who now have access to quality education and clean water,” read the letter.
Alumnus John Matthew Mullin sent words from Australia where he now works for the Queensland Department of Education. "Paul Delaney was my hero," wrote John in the very moving tribute.
Alumna Nadine Naguib Suliman (Egypt 2009), who knew Uncle Paul through his support of students in the Trent Muslim Students Association, shared her admiration for "a great man." She also shared words from Alumna Rasha Sabouny, who is now in graduate school in Scotland. Ms. Sabouny offered blessings from Allah in tribute.
Former student Scott Cannata attended the memorial, and presented a gift to the Trent Alumni Association in honour of Uncle Paul: the very Trent sweater Paul had given him at one stop on Scott’s “Run to Live” across Canada. "Paul showed up several times in the most surprising places to support me. He not only wanted me to keep warm through the toughest parts of the run, but he reminded me to carry the spirit of Trent with me every step of the way," said Mr. Cannata.
Alumnus Jesse Barke Doha, a Jack Matthews TIP Scholar who comes from Niger in West Africa spoke on behalf of the hundreds of international students to whom Mr. Delaney was known as "Uncle Paul". He spoke of the times he'd visited Paul at home in Penatenguishene, "It was remarkable to experience Paul's hospitality, his sharing us with all his neighbours and treating us like members of his family. I know it was Paul's way of giving back to others the kind of hospitality he'd experienced in Sierra Leone."
Trent International Program director, Dr. Mike Allcott spoke about the legendary status Uncle Paul holds at Trent. “No one more completely embodied the values expressed by Trent University.” Dr. Allcott announced the establishment of the Paul Delaney Award for Humanitarian Service as Trent's permanent memorial. “This annual award will recognize a person whose work sowing seeds of friendship across international, cultural, religious or generational boundaries makes them an outstanding model for Trent students, Canadians and all global citizens to emulate.
“The Paul Delaney Award will be a lasting legacy to the extraordinary person who affected and affirmed the lives of people all across Canada and the world. It will also affirm the Trent University Paul dedicated his life to serving by publicizing Trent's commitment to the values of social responsibility and global citizenship. The Award will be in the character of Paul Delaney in as much as it will celebrate persons who have accomplished remarkable humanitarian work by cultivating friendships between people on a human scale,” said Dr. Allcott.
“For me, the most worthwhile part of my time here was the international students - sitting down for lunch with American, Chinese, Russian or Iranian students in a Canadian university. It was the amazing people I met, just amazing. And it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been here. I would never have met a Palestinian; I would never have met someone from Lesotho. These students are going to be leaders of the world someday - I can tell.” ~Paul Delaney, Alumni-in-Residence, 2005