Joseph Makhan Dubé
January 31, 1926 – July 30, 2020
Joseph Makhan Dubé was born in Trinidad. He studied Medicine in Scotland at Glasgow University from 1947 to1952. While in Scotland, he played cricket on the Colonial X1 and Yorkshire cricket clubs. In England he studied at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he witnessed the public coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On one memorable occasion, he was offered a free ticket to a performance of Isobel Bailey singing in Handel’s Messiah at Albert Hall, and he spoke of it fondly for years afterwards.
Back in Trinidad, Dad opened his private medical practice in the town of his birth, Princes Town. By then he had met and married our mother, Vilma Meghu, in 1955. Dad was on call 24/7, as the town’s only doctor for many years. He dealt with snake and scorpion bites, minor surgeries, delivering babies, and so on. Sometimes patients even expected him to look after their ailing livestock! Dad had cows at home, and he used to milk them before going to work. He loved growing grapefruit, coconuts, cassava and pigeon peas.
Dad knew that basic Public Health was a key factor in people’s medical outcomes – clean water, and sanitation. He believed in food self-sufficiency, and wrote countless letters and petitioned the Trinidad government to be less reliant on imported American products, which were destroying local farmers’ livelihoods. Dad’s political activities led to him being blacklisted and harassed by the Trinidad government. He and the family eventually immigrated to Nanaimo, B.C., in 1971, part of a diaspora of Trinidadian leaders and influencers who fell afoul of the government.
In Nanaimo, Dad worked as a doctor at the Medical Arts Centre for many years. He continued his political interests by trying to raise awareness of trade and social issues. He wrote many letters to the Canadian government on these topics, and to local newspapers.
He and Mom and other friends founded the Global Village organization and the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society in 1979. He was an active member of the Trinity United Church of Nanaimo. He continued to play cricket in Nanaimo. He liked soccer, especially the Manchester United team, and the Glasgow Rangers. He loved learning Spanish and he and Mom travelled in South America after he retired. They also returned to Trinidad during the winter months where he continued to grow coconuts, grapefruits and mahogany trees, plus practice medicine.
His favourite author, George Bernard Shaw, “never went to University” he liked to say. He also liked to say “the problem with a good education is you forget how to curse”. If he was really mad about something he growled “Christmas!” and we knew that was trouble. When in doubt, he intoned: “A hae me doots” in a sing-song Scottish accent. Dad saw natural wisdom in people who lived close to the land and he loved to encourage anyone who had potential to rise and be a leader in their community. He never forgot where he came from – hard-working ancestors eking out a living in cane fields in Trinidad to build a rich and prosperous community. Privilege was something to be shared, not hoarded.
Dad is predeceased by his four siblings, his wife Vilma in 2018, and is survived by his sister Amabelle, his three children Ian, Joy and Mark, his grandchildren Karina, Kiki, Christopher, Melissa, Gregory, Nicholas, Rebecca, Emily, Andrew and Tara, and 13 great-grandchildren. He is sorely missed by us all.
Many thanks to Dad’s excellent doctor, Dr. Kaban at the Medical Arts Centre, the wonderful and caring staff at Berwick On the Lake, and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation, the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust or the Canadian Council of Policy Alternatives (Ottawa).
A private virtual by-invitation-only Celebration of Life will be held in the coming weeks.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Joseph Makhan Dubé
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August 8, 2020
It was a privilege for me to get to know Mak during my 7 years as the Minister of Trinity United Church in Nanaimo. During much of that time, of course, his health was not what Mak would have wanted it to have been. And yet, to the best of his ability, he participated with genuine interest and true enthusiasm in the life of the congregation, taking an especially keen interest in reading and discussion groups. Until the very end, his mind was active: always open to new learning, new knowledge, new wisdom, and never shy about sharing his own considerable learning, knowledge and wisdom. A kind and gentle man in every sense of those words, I offer his family--especially his daughter Joy, who cared so diligently for both her mom and her dad during their final years--my warmest thoughts and most heartfelt condolences. May you all find comfort and hope as you nurture memories of a very remarkable human being.
August 1, 2020
My Uncle Mac will be missed...
At a teenager, he impressed upon me the importance of having an education. Over the years he nurtured a healthy curiosity in me as we discussed world events, specific to developing countries and yes, Trinidad! His life, along with my Auntie Vilo, was a wonderful balance of family and service, they set a great example for me and informed values I hold dear.
Thank you Uncle Mac... May your soul rest in peace and be in the company of those you love, always!