Celebrating educator Vincent D’Oyley (1927-2008)

Family, friends and colleagues of Vincent D’Oyley – scholar, teacher, educational administrator, community development worker, researcher, university professor and consultant – gathered to share memories, the life and the work of a man who had a tremendous impact on education in multicultural Canada. The memorial took place on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

D’Oyley was a professor emeritus and former associate dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. He died May 10 in Vancouver, BC, (see YFile, June 16, 2008). D’Oyley was awarded an honorary doctor of letters by York in 1994.

Stan Shapson, York VP research & innovation, attended the memorial. He spoke about his own friendship and research collaboration with Vince, as D’Oyley was affectionately called. As the co-editor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education: Canadian Perspectives, Shapson spoke about D’Oyley’s knowledge mobilization efforts toward a future where education policies and strategies would be formed by engaging in a global discourse with the community, educators and researchers, as well as activists, physicians and lawyers.

Left: From left, Alice Pitt, dean of York’s Faculty of Education; Heather D’Oyley, daughter of the late Vincent D’Oyley; and Stan Shapson. Pitt and Shapson presented Heather D’Oyley with the framed honorary doctor of letters which York granted to Vincent D’Oyley in 1994

Shapson remembered his colleague as a remarkable friend, a mentor and an academic who brought other academics into the research tent. "Although he is not with us," said Shapson, "his larger-than-life inspiration is, and the issues that he championed are very important to the work we are doing today."

In his remarks, Shapson congratulated York’s Faculty of Education Dean Alice Pitt on the display of research, which he said would have made D’Oyley proud. "The Faculty of Education," he said, "is ahead in our community connectedness. The Jean Augustine Chair is one such example of York’s commitment to community voices."

Jean Augustine, an educator and Canada’s first female black MP, also shared the legacy of D’Oyley and his focus on multi-ethnic urban education development. She spoke of him as a thinker, writer, visionary and builder who remained an academic but walked with the community. She also talked of our need to build upon his belief that we could work towards a more equitable and progressive society. "A monument to Vince is in our hearts, our lives, and we see it forever in his writing, and these are trails that we must follow," she said.

Heather D’Oyley was present at the memorial and spoke of her visionary father and his work for black Canadian youth. She read a tribute from her sister, Allison, who wrote that her father could see "beyond the layers of misunderstandings to know that we are one".

D’Oyley’s work had a significant impact on the minority education policies of the North York Board of Education, the formation of the National Council of Black Educators of Canada, and his participation in the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

The room was filled with laughter at heart-warming anecdotes, D’Oyley’s love of Latin, mountains and music, and the shared inspiration of carrying the torch that D’Oyley lit for changing the face of education in Canada.

In addition to Shapson and Augustine, Denham Joly, Len Brathwaite, Rosemary Sadlier, and York Professor Carl James, along with the Consul General of Jamaica Anne-Marie Bonner joined York community members and the D’Oyley family for the memorial.

Submitted to YFile by Sana Mulji Dutt, research communications officer