Wallace Bernard was well-known and well-loved by all whom had the good fortune of knowing him, especially within the Mi’kmaw community. He served as a councillor for the Membertou Band Council for many years, and he was very involved in Mi’kmaw sport initiatives.
Wallace coached the Membertou Thunderbirds fastball team to numerous championships in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also on the organizing committee for the first iteration of the Nova Scotia Indian Summer Games, now known as the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games.
In 1974, after coordinating a series of home-and-home exhibition games featuring All-Native teams from Membertou and Pictou Landing, Wallace and Joe B. Marshall organized the Nova Scotia Invitational Indian Juvenile Tournament—the first of its kind for Atlantic Canada. Russell Marshall joined the committee shortly after, becoming instrumental in the early growth of the tournament.
Through their dedication and year-round fundraising efforts, the tournament grew to include many more age brackets and expanded their rosters beyond Nova Scotia. One year a team came from as far away as Sandy Bay, Manitoba.
Wallace sadly passed away on December 8th, 1988 at the age of 55. The following year, the tournament committee rebranded the 16-year event with a new name, theme and logo—the Wallace Bernard Memorial Native Youth Hockey Tournament.
Widely known as the Wallys, the tournament is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. Volunteers are at the heart of the tournament, their hard work ensuring its success. The Wallys have truly become a marquee event for Aboriginal hockey in the Atlantic region.
Wallace’s proud legacy continues through his grandsons Mike and J.R. Isadore, who now coordinate the yearly tournament.