Uncle, brother, friend, accountant, man of his community. Born Nov. 15, 1956, in Halifax, died March 31, 2012, in Halifax of a heart attack, aged 55.
When Bernie Hum was a boy helping in his father’s restaurant, he once asked why they were giving free meals to a family all week. His father told him it was their responsibility to provide a helping hand to those in need in their community. This lesson was never lost on Bernie.
Like many Chinese immigrants of the Gold Mountain era, Bernie’s father Tom Hum opened a restaurant. It operated successfully in Halifax for 50 years. He travelled back to China as often as possible in spite of world wars and revolutions.
In 1947, the Canadian government (then Liberal) repealed the Chinese Immigration Act and allowed Bernie’s mother, Yee Chung, to finally come to Canada. His parents had been married for 24 years.
Bernie was their youngest son and the first born in Canada. His parents’ immigrant story fostered his life-long commitment to the Liberal Party and service to his Halifax community. The Hum Society continues to care for elderly Chinese community members. Bernie also helped craft the Education Scholarship Program, which provides university funds for members’ children.
After earning a degree in commerce from Saint Mary’s University, he spent a couple of years at Revenue Canada in Ottawa before returning to Halifax and opening a tax consulting practice.
Bernie had a mind for creativity as well as business. He was a sought-after event planner. When daughters or sons of friends were married, Bernie was in high demand to create the magic that led to cherished memories, often without pay. His company Pizazz had a warehouse of unique collectibles for such occasions.
All his friends experienced his loyalty, kindness and generosity. He had “shopping friends” who drove him around. He loved a bargain. When asked why he was buying multiples of a particular item, his response was always, “You never know.”
His major interest was politics and his Liberal friends. He was trusted to advise on issues and oversee the design of brochures, signs, banners, buttons and slogans. He had his own button-making machine, and would arrive at party conventions with a limited quantity, creating a huge demand. One famous slogan read: “Free Canada, Trade Mulroney.”
He was also a great chef. If he called to say he’d made Chinese food, it was worth dropping everything to go straight to his house.
Family was most important to Bernie. His brother Tom, sister-in-law Myra and their children, Matthew and Alexandra, celebrated every occasion together. He adored his nephew and niece. His sister Good You Yee, living in California with her family, was always in close contact.
Bernie’s Chinese immigrant father would be proud of him for lessons well learned about the ideals of the country they both loved.
Matthew and Alexandra Hum are Bernie’s nephew and niece.