Mr. Speaker, the city of Hamilton has its own unique place in the history of black Canadians. Sadly, part of that history was lost yesterday with the passing of Bernie Custis.
In 1951, Bernie Custis began his professional career with the Hamilton Tiger Cats as pro football's first black quarterback. It did not happen in the United States until 1968.
Dad got season tickets in 1952, partly because of all the excitement Bernie was bringing to the game, and I watched him as an eight-year old in section 11. I got to know Bernie personally when he began his coaching career with the Burlington Braves and the McMaster Marauders, with an overall record in those teams of 105 wins and only 43 losses.
Bernie is in the Canadian Football, McMaster University and Syracuse University Halls of Fame. He also served his community as a teacher and principal.
His friends will remember him as a kind, intelligent, decent, and thoughtful man, whose dignity carried him through the inevitable episodes of racism sadly common during the years of his youth. We will miss him.