Tributes pour in for beloved Halifax educator Wade Smith
Many people in Nova Scotia are mourning the death of a well-known Halifax educator, coach and community leader.
Wade Smith, the principal at Citadel High School, passed away Friday at the age of 50 after a battle with stomach cancer.
On Monday, there was a somber mood around the school’s campus; many students wore black clothing to class. Flowers, notes and basketballs were among the tributes left outside of Smith’s office.
"Even though we have over 1,200 students, I can say every student had a connection with our principal which was pretty amazing," says Citadel High student council president Bocar Wade.
Principal Smith’s brother Thane Smith says the outpouring of support is a reflection of the love he had for his students and community.
"His passion for youth, his passion for development and trying to get the best out of young people so they can find their path and their own voice in life," says ThaneSmith.
In his 26 years as a teacher, Wade Smith was a tireless promoter of education, he was also well known in the Nova Scotia basketball community. He starred for St. Francis Xavier University and played for the Canadian national team, before becoming a highly respected coach at Halifax’s Community Y and with Basketball Nova Scotia.
He also recently received the 2017 Sport Nova Scotia Chair’s Award for his contributions to sport in the province.
"Obviously legend status is something you have to give him as a player, and now you look at the coaches that are saying they have an impact from Wade Smith because of his mentality and his outlook on life and giving back," says Basketball Nova Scotia executive director David Wagg.
Augy Jones, head coach of St. Francis Xavier’s women's basketball team, was a longtime friend and teammate.
"It's a success story for someone who grew up two blocks away in supposedly a dangerous neighbourhood,who rises up to play basketball for Canada, get his Master’s Degree in education, become an English teacher, department head, vice principal and then principal of the local school in his community - that's a beautiful story and that's a story for everyone," says Jones.
Smith may be gone, but those who knew him say his message will live on in the memory of his students, friends and family.
"Take the torch that he set and keep on moving with it, and keep on improving the community and the way student voices are heard, and the way black student voices are heard in our community," says BocarWade.
"Wade would not want his work to go in vain,” says ThaneSmith. “I hope that school teachers recognize what the impact can be when one person has the finger on the pulse of the students. If you have a finger of the pulse of our students, who are the future of tomorrow, look how beautiful things can be.”
Before his diagnosis, Smith was named head coach for Nova Scotia’s men's basketball team.
Thane Smith and friend Shawn Mantley will now coach the team; they will represent the province at this summer's Canada games in Winnipeg.
The team is looking to win Nova Scotia's first Canada Games basketball gold medal since the 1987 championship team, which was led by Wade Smith when he was a 20-year-old.
Smith is survived by his wife Sherry, and sons Jaydan and Jaxon.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.