Remembering Paule Doucet (1943 – 2016)

The WUSC Community would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Paule Doucet. Paule passed away peacefully on May 25, 2016, at the age of 73 in Hawkesbury, not far from her cherished L’Orignal home.

Paule DoucetPaule grew up on the Acadian Peninsula and started her post-secondary education at the Collège Notre-Dame d’Acadie and at University of St-Joseph, from which she graduated as top of her class “Magna cum laude” with a Bachelor of Arts in 1963, in Religion, French and Philosophy. She later attended Université de Montréal (1963-1966) where she earned a Bachelor and a Masters in Sociology.

Paule’s first connection with WUSC was in 1965 when she participated in the International Seminar to Chile, along with a group of 35 other students, with whom she became life-long friends.

The International Seminar has been a family affair for Paule. Her husband, late Dr Domingos Armando Donida (who passed away in 2004), participated in the Seminar in India in 1973, as a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa. Their son, Gabriel Domingos Doucet Donida, also participated in the Seminar in Brazil in 1992 when he was an architecture student at Carleton University.

After the seminar in 1965, Paule pursued her education at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales and at the Institut d’Amérique latine (1967–1968). She then received a scholarship from the Canadian Arts Council (NOTA BENE: first woman to receive such an award) to do research on policies and practices of low-cost housing in Brazil (1968–1970). Paule taught sociology at the Colleges Jean-de- Brébeuf and Jésus-Marie (1966–1967), at the University Ottawa (1971–1979) and at Université de Moncton (1979).

She managed Official Languages Research at the Secretary of State of Canada (now called Canadian Heritage) (1987–1999); she was the director of a provincial not-for-profit organization which aimed at enhancing the Franco-Ontarian heritage (1999-2004); she was a freelance consultant in strategic planning and governance, in the arts, in the culture and heritage sector, as well as in adult education and women’s organizations (2005-2014). In the meantime, Paule also studied at Université Jean Monnet (1995-2000) where she earned a PhD in museology and sociology, focusing on community action for heritage.

Paule was also very active in advisory committees and citizen’s committees in the arts, culture and heritage at the City of Ottawa, she was a board member of the Ontario Museum Association, the Ontario Heritage Trust (2004-2015) and the Hawkesbury Regional Hospital since 2010.

Recently, during her free time, Paule wrote a biography of her father, J. André Doucet, about his commitments and his work in his time (1880-1963).

Last November, the 1965 Seminar group came together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their seminar though a memorable and touching reunion held in Ottawa. Paule attended the reunion with great enthusiasm.

As a wonderfully generous farewell note, Paule created the “Paule-Doucet Scholarship”, which is managed by the Acadian Centre at Moncton University, NB, with the goal to support to Graduate Students for their respective research on francophone community resources originating in New Brunswick.

Here is what family, friends and colleagues have to say about Paule:

“Paule was my roommate for several nights during the seminar. I remember her being a very serious, quiet student whose company I enjoyed. She was in a different study group from mine and I was sorry we didn’t see each other more. I had an enjoyable chat with her at the reunion last fall, all about local history, which was another of her interests. She was trying to get something going in her own community, to get local history collected, preserved and recorded there.” (Mary Janes, Seminar Participant 1965)

“My mother was truly a unique soul, a deeply proud Acadian… engaged in many and varied topics, from sociology to the visual arts… a hunger for reading to deepen her knowledge about our ever changing society. Moreover, an amazing mother in every way. Deeply missed, forever.” (Paule’s son Gabriel)

“Very sad news indeed. She was a great companion in Chile and reconnected so warmly at our anniversary reunion.” (Al Burrows, Seminar Participant 1965)

“Indeed, it is so sad to loose her so soon after having reconnected with her. After the Chile seminar, she traveled for 3 weeks with me to Bolivia, on the Altiplano with a missionary and on to Peru via Lake Titicaca. She was a wonderful  companion.” (Renée Poutissou, Seminar Participant 1965)