In Memoriam 

Richard Diubaldo, 1940-2007

Historian, emeritus professor and administrator Richard Diubaldo died on July 1 after a courageous struggle with cancer.

He taught at Acadia, Carleton and McGill Universities and the State University of New York, as well as at Concordia, whose history department he joined in 1968.

He headed Concordia’s Centre for Mature Students from 1981 to 1988. He was named Director of the Centre for Continuing Education in 1992, and in 2000 was named Director of Recruitment. He retired in 2002.

He wrote three books, including a prize-winning study of Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. In retirement, he taught in Mexico, where he worked on a documentary called Arctic Dreamer.

Our condolences go out to his son Philip and daughter Anne-Marie. A memorial service was held on Sept. 7 in the Loyola Chapel.

Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, 1939-2007

Former Dean of Arts and Science Gail Guthrie Valaskakis passed away on July 19 in Ottawa from complications due to lung cancer.

As the daughter of a Chippewa father and a Dutch-American mother, born on Indian land in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, Gail attended a federal Indian school and strongly identified as a First Nations person. She earned her MA at Cornell University in Theatre Arts and her PhD (Communications) at McGill University.

Gail joined Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies in 1968 and became full professor in 1990. As a teacher, she was an inspiration and acted as a mentor to many graduate students who would go on to become prominent scholars. While in the Department of Communication Studies, she introduced courses on Intercultural Communications, Media and Cultural Context, and Communications in the Canadian North.

Gail Valaskakis in 2002. Magnifying glass

Gail Valaskakis in 2002.

She entered education administration as a vice-dean in the late 1980s and was appointed Dean of the Arts and Science Faculty in 1992, where she spent one term before retirement. She helped establish the Inter-University Joint Doctoral Program in Communications with UQAM and the Université de Montréal, as well as the Concordia Native Education Centre.

Two years after retiring from Concordia in 1998, and upon the completion of her book of essays, Indian Country: Essays on Contemporary Native Culture (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press), Gail became the research director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, where she supervised hundreds of studies across the country and brought to the organization her range of knowledge and experience.

She had a great impact on the Canadian health and social welfare communities, and on the development of aboriginal media. Without a doubt, her vision of equity, fairness, and social justice has contributed to the development of new federal practices and policies.

An intellectual pioneer, Gail was the first to use the work of Harold Innis to frame her northern communications research. She was the first scholar to introduce aboriginal issues into the field of international cultural studies.
The vision she brought to research at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation had much to do with the recent agreement negotiated between the federal government and those who had suffered from the sexual abuse and violence imposed on them at mission schools across the country.

Gail was a founding member of Manitou College, the first post-secondary institution in eastern Canada designed for aboriginal students. She also helped create the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal and used her skills to establish Waseskun House, a halfway house north of Montreal that has grown into a healing lodge for native men in trouble with the law.

Gail won a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2002, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2005.

She is mourned by her twin sons, Paris and Ion, her partner Stan, and many close friends and colleagues across the country. On Sept. 2, Gail's ashes were spread over Lac du Flambeau after a memorial ceremony in the local church.

Lorna Roth,
Communication Studies


Concordia University