By RON FANFAIR
Dr. Rudy Grant’s entire professional career was dedicated to teaching and improving the lives and minds of young people and adults.
The lifelong educator and political scientist, who taught at York University for 31 years before retiring in December 1998, died last Monday in Toronto after a lengthy illness. He was 79.
York University has been central to the academic development of many Caribbean immigrants and Grant left his mark as one of the key educators who played a leading role in providing educational and social advancement.
He and fellow Guyanese-born Professor Emeritus Dr. Wolseley “Percy” Anderson pioneered Inter-Disciplinary Studies at the university and co-researched studies for the Ontario Ministry of Education in 1975 on the challenges that Caribbean immigrants faced in adjusting in the school system in a new country.
The resulting report, The New Newcomers, was used as resource material by teachers and researchers across Canada.
Justice of the Peace Dr. Odida Quamina said Grant was his teacher, mentor, friend and guide.
“He was the first university professor I met when I came to Canada from Guyana in 1972,” said Quamina. “At the time, I was a young revolutionary who came here to get my Bachelor of Arts degree and return home. It was Rudy who encouraged me to move from a B.A. to a Masters and then on to a doctorate. He was the ‘go-to’ professor when you wanted something done and he steered me and a lot of bright and enthusiastic young newcomers from the Caribbean in the 1970s in the right direction.”
Lawyer Aston Hall said Grant encouraged him to pursue law and engage in community service.
“Rudy taught us how to be critical and he was an inspiration to me,” said Hall. “Because of him, I understood that I could do things and there was no limit to what I wanted to achieve. He was a major force in my academic development.”
Grant taught in Guyana before pursuing history studies and a Graduate Teaching Diploma in Education at the University of the West Indies from 1957-1961. Two years later, he secured a Graduate Academic Diploma in Education from the University of London through external study.
He received his Masters in 1966 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1970.
Grant joined York University as a part-time instructor in the summer of 1967 and received full-time appointment two years later.
In the early 1970s, he was at the forefront of a movement trying to raise Black consciousness in Toronto. He supervised youth at St. Christopher House and attended United Negro Improvement Association meetings after classes. He also helped organize the Black Heritage Education project that provided assistance to students in need and co-founded the Thorncliffe Park Black Heritage Association.
Grant is survived by his wife and two children, younger brother Dr. Joe Grant, a former Toronto Catholic District School board principal and owner of the defunct Cutty’s Hideaway restaurant, and sister Ornette Willis.
A younger brother, Cedric, passed away five years ago on June 15. He was an assistant professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and a former Guyana ambassador to the United States and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
The funeral service took place last Saturday.