It’s been just over 20 years since his death, but the name Delmore “Buddy” Daye continues to resonate in Halifax.
“We always knew there was something different about Daddy,” says his daughter Melinda Daye. Even though the family didn’t have a lot with nine children to raise, her father would always help those in need.
“Daddy was always bringing someone in, whether it was for supper or overnight because they needed somewhere to stay.”
Buddy’s inclination to help others is something Melinda still hears about, as soon as someone finds out her last name. “To this day, if we’re out anywhere and somebody recognizes us as a Daye … they’ll say ‘oh my,
what a gracious man he was,’” she says.
Born in New Glasgow in 1929, Buddy moved to Halifax when he was five and was raised by foster parents. He never met his father and only came to know his mother as an adult. Someone murdered his brother near their Creighton Street home, a crime police never solved, and Buddy later spent time in a South African prison as a teenager.
According to Melinda, the latter incident happened when her father was a merchant marine. “Even at that very young age, he was very conscious of social justice,” she says.“Something wrong was being done to a woman, so he spoke up and the guards took him away and put him in jail.”
However, these experiences didn’t stop Buddy from helping others.
“He was not angry and bitter,” she recalls. “He turned it into [the question of] what do I need to do to move forward.”
Buddy became a champion boxer, winning 81 of 88 bouts and the Canadian Junior Lightweight title. After retiring, he would help out other boxers at the Creighton Street Gym, the place where he started his career.
“He…always saw boxing as a channel to move in the next direction,” says Melinda.
In the 1960s, he ran as the Halifax Needham NDP candidate, but lost. He was then offered the position of director of legislative affairs for Nova Scotia. In 1990, he became the first African Nova Scotian to take on the role of Sergeant-at-Arms for the Legislature.
Buddy was also instrumental in establishing key organizations within Halifax, especially those centred on the African Nova Scotian community and education. “Education was taken from us… we always had to fight for education,” says Daye. “He personally called 15 people to the table who became the Black Learners’ Advisory Committee, which later became the Council on African Canadian Education.”
Using Buddy’s name to improve educational opportunities has continued after his death as well. The Delmore “Buddy Daye” Learning Institute was named in his honour and his family established the Buddy Daye Scholarship Fund for African Nova Scotians aged 14 to 24.
“In spite of everything he was doing, he was daddy,” Melinda says. “We never ever felt left out or that he didn’t have time for us. If we showed up at Province House … we were never turned away. He would come and
greet us with a big smile.”
Buddy died in 1995 at age 65. Melinda says her father showed her how much of an impact one person can have and what needs to be done to make Nova Scotia a better place for people of all ages, races and backgrounds.
“He told us, ‘I started it, you guys finish it’,” she says. “We know we have a legacy that we have to continue in this city and in this province.”
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