Adam Day, a voice for many of Canada’s frontline troops stationed all over the world, died in Toronto on July 5. Day was 42.
Described as having a lifelong interest in the armed forces and military history, Day’s career as a war correspondent would take him from Afghanistan to Africa and even to Canada’s High Arctic.
Throughout his time as a journalism student, Day showed an unshakable interest in becoming a war correspondent. After studying English and sociology at Queen’s University, Day transferred his credits to TRU, then called University College of the Cariboo, and came to study journalism in 2001.
Alan Bass, a retired Thompson Rivers University journalism professor, remembered Day showing incredible ambition in realizing his dream.
“One of the first things he told me was that he wanted to be a war correspondent. Throughout the two-year journalism program, he never wavered from that,” Bass said. “He wouldn’t let anything step in his way.”
Bass described Day as a curious and hard-working individual with a penchant for working independently, but he also remembers Day as a student that was always happy and always willing to participate.
“He was a really good guy, a great student – funny, too,” Bass said. “I always got a smile whenever I saw him. He was always happy. He had this big head of tousled hair. He was a big guy. But I really respected the steadfastness of his ambition.”
Nearer to his graduation, when it was apparent that Day still desired to be a war correspondent, Bass talked in length with Day about the dangers of reporting from warzones, especially as a freelancer.
Day started working for Legion Magazine in 2004 and his first trip to a foreign country as a correspondent would be as a freelancer in Turkey.
“That was his dream job,” Bass said. “Obviously he did a lot of war reporting and gained a reputation among the military community and also among his fellow military reporters as a guy who did a really good job. That never surprised me, he was always really bright and really committed to telling people stories.”
In 2002, Day was also a participant in the very first Canadian Military Journalism Course (CMJC), a program that introduces university students to military journalism and the Canadian Armed Forces.
“Adam was the most driven-to-succeed young journalist I have had the pleasure to meet, and that says a lot because we think the students who attend the CMJC are among the cream of the crop of Canada’s emerging journalists each year,” said Robert Bergen, the course’s creator and an assistant professor at the University of Calgary.
Bergen would invite Day back to Calgary in 2011 to speak to the students of that year’s CMJC. Many of those students would tell Bergen that Day’s accomplishments stood as an example of what young journalists could do if they put their minds to something.
A year later, Day would receive the Ross Munro Media Award for making a significant contributions to the general public’s understanding of issues relating to Canada’s defence and security.
Though Day’s cause of death hasn’t been publicly released, Bass suspects that it may have been related to his job.
“Adam’s death hit me especially hard, not just because I felt a lot of personal affection for him, but also because it appears his death was related to his job,” Bass said. “To see a guy get his dream job and in the end it destroys him … It’s just so hard.”
Adam Day is survived by his parents Wilfred and Margaret, sister Alexia and niece Emilia, all of Port Hope, Ont., and sister Patricia Ferrari, niece Lia and nephew Alex of Whitby, Ont.
Update July 31:
Wilfred Day, Adam’s father, has written The Omega and recommended reading three of his son’s stories he wrote for Legion Magazine. These stories are linked below.