Retired Trinidad-born professor dies in Winnipeg at 78

Deo Harry Poonwassi

Retired Trinidad-born professor Deo Harry Poonwassi died at his home in Winnipeg on Sunday. He was 78.

Poomwassi who taught for several years at the University of Manitoba and Brandon  University, suffered a stroke last April.

Former Trinidad and Tobago foreign minister Winston Dookeran, a

graduate of the University of Manitoba, told the Caribbean  Camera that Poonwassi “rose miraculously in university circles and was an academic pioneer in aboriginal studies and in the field of education.”

After receiving his  Bachelor of Education  degree from the University of Manitoba, Ponwassi taught at Winnipeg’s Eastwood Collegiate while working towards his Master of Education which he completed in 1973.

He earned his  PhD in education in 1978 after working with the University  of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education and Brandon University’s  Northern Teacher  Education Program.

In 1979, he  returned to the University of Manitoba as a founding director of two programs focusing on aboriginal students: the  Access Program and the Special Premedical Program. Both programs received national awards from the Canadian Association for Continuing Education.

In 1992, Poonwassie received the Commemorative Medal for the 125 anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, in recognition of his dedication to Manitoba’s communities.

In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II  Diamond Jubilee Medal for his service to his community and the nation.

His contributions and accomplishments as an educator has been recognized with a promotion  to the rank of Professor Emeritus.

He leaves his son, Alex.

A funeral service for the late Deo Harry Poonwassie will be held in Winnipeg on  Saturday September 21.