“Philanthropist is the word I would use to describe him.”
For Brian Goodleaf, the son of the late Angus John Shakoia’ténhtha Goodleaf, his father was someone he looked up to on a multitude of levels.
His nickname is no coincidence, as Buddy was a friend to everyone.
He was a remarkable member of the community that will be leaving an enormous impact on many Kahnawa’kehró:non, young and old.
This was evident in the significant turnout at his wake and funeral.
Buddy’s family has felt an outpouring of support during this time, for which they are incredibly thankful.
Like most growing up in the early 30s, he had a difficult life. After starting ironworking when he was 16, he opened Goodleaf’s Garage in his late 20s. Buddy’s success and entrepreneurial skills were no coincidence, as his integrity and hard work paved the road.
And despite his good fortune, he remained a gracious and extraordinarily giving man.
“I can recall a time when women would come to the house, and my mother and father would give them an envelope,” said Brian. “Last week, a person came to my house and gave me an envelope with a donation to the fire hall as we requested, saying that he would never forget my father because he put food on their table.”
Buddy’s parents were Mae Splicer and Angus Goodleaf. He was the youngest of three children, brother of Sylvia Goodleaf Trudeau and the late Vilma Goodleaf Sky. He married Elvina Zachary in 1957.
Sadly, he only had a short partnership with his wife, who passed away in her early 40s. “He never had another partner,” explained his other son Mouchie. “She was the love of his life.”
Together they had five children: Anna Mae, Trudy, the late Teri, Mouchie and Brian. He has four grandchildren: Terri, Amy, Joe Frank, and Zachary.
He also has six great-grandchildren: Dade, Presley, Lola, Wa’kenhrawá:kon, Ruby, Iehrhísak’s and two great-great-grandchildren: Akenhnhí:io and Tiowennò:se.
Over the past week, since he passed, Brian and Mouchie have received an overwhelming amount of support from the community.
Buddy has been called everything from an icon to a legend, titles that do not surprise his family in the slightest.
“He had a very good heart. It’s obvious because it wasn’t his heart that killed him,” said Brian. Buddy passed away last Saturday, at 90 years old.
His son explained that although he had a tough exterior, he had a soft side too. “He would get emotional and sentimental the odd time, and as a father, he was a teddy bear.”
Mouchie feels he has his father to thank for the kind and empathetic man he has become today.
Due to Buddy’s avid interest in music, a love for fishing, a presence in the church, and at lacrosse and hockey games, his spirit can be found everywhere in Kahnawake.
He won many awards for his volunteerism and his dedication was exemplary.
“He gave a lot,” said Mouchie. “He taught me to help people and give. He was an awesome dad.”
Being his curator in his older years, Mouchie and Buddy did everything together. Even at the hospital, Buddy had a jukebox on his side table. “I’m a DJ, so I would always play for the residents, and I told him one day he would have to play a show for me. I’m going to miss that,” said Mouchie. “He will be leaving a huge void in my heart.”
And although he had a deep love for music, this didn’t mean he could carry a tune. “He couldn’t sing to save his life, but if you had a minute, he’d sing your ears off,” said Brian.
His sense of humour didn’t end there. He was always making people laugh, sometimes even unintentionally.
Brian recalled one day, when a gentleman walked into the garage, talking to someone on his Bluetooth headset. Sitting in the corner of the garage, Buddy called Brian over, his face riddled with concern. “Be cautious with that man,” he said. “There’s clearly something wrong with him. He’s been talking to himself since we got here.”
With a transparent and honest attitude, Buddy always shared exactly what was on his mind.
Despite family disputes and arguments, Buddy would never pick a side. He would always listen and never judge.
“My dad was remarkable in every aspect,” said Brian. Although being born in 1931 hindered his ability to understand technology, Buddy was always around to help out and find solutions. “You name it, he knew about it. He knew what to do and how to fix it.”
Brian’s son Zachary also had a deep connection with his grandfather. Buddy always shared stories with him out in his garden, sipping on his iconic can of warm cola. He even gave his grandson his garden when he was no longer able to take care of it.
Being one of the first-ever first responders in Kahnawake, Buddy and late community member Albert Lazare became the first ambulance attendants in the community and later became founding members of the Kahnawake Fire Brigade.
Buddy was also an honorary lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus.
“They started the ambulance service for the fire members and then extended it to family members, and then the whole community,” said Albert’s son Arnold Lazare.
“It was a donated truck that they put a stretcher in, and it was basically held together by a big safety pin,” he said with a laugh.
Arnold explained that Buddy donated thousands of vehicles through his garage for members to learn how to use tools and work with scrap pieces of old cars. He emphasized the kindness and giving nature of Buddy and how it translated to those he raised.
“The Kahnawake Fire Brigade is one of the best fire departments not only in the Indigenous world, but in the non-Indigenous world as well, and with the support of men like Buddy and his family, it has allowed us to progress to the point we are at now.”
An opportunity to meet a unique man like Buddy may only come once in a lifetime. And although he passed on, the hope is his knowledge, charisma, and even his out-of-tune singing will continue to touch those who knew him, teaching the valuable lesson of kindness.