Educator and clinician Dr. Ralph Agard has died.
The chief executive officer and chief consultant of Agard & Associates for the last six years died in hospital last Sunday morning. He was 65.
Migrating from Trinidad & Tobago at age 17, Agard graduated from the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University prior to relocating to Toronto where he secured his Master’s in special education and Ph.D. in special education & counselling from the University of Toronto.
He also did post-graduate work in psychological assessment at the Adler School of Psychology and was the holder of an alternate dispute resolution advanced certificate from the University of Windsor’s law faculty.
For a decade up until 1994, Agard was the national executive director of Harambee Centres Canada Child & Family Services. He was also an adjunct professor in the U of T Faculty of Social Work and director of human rights & equity at the University of Guelph-Humber before starting his own consulting firm in 1999.
In 2007, he closed Agard & Associates to assume the post of director of human rights & organizational change and subsequently assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services. When his association with the provincial government ended two years later, Agard re-opened his consulting firm in Osborne Barnwell’s law office.
“Ralph was deeply committed to equality,” said Barnwell. “He didn’t think for a second to contribute his efforts when it came to balancing the playing field so people could maintain their dignity. He was also very effective in terms of writing reports for lawyers. His loss is a significant blow to our community.”
Twice appointed by the province’s solicitor general to serve on race relations and policing task forces, Agard was also the president of the Children’s Aid Society Toronto board of directors, a board member and committee chair of the United Way of Greater Toronto and a member of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General’s Mandatory Mediation Roster of Mediators.
“I will remember Ralph as someone who contributed not just to Toronto, but other areas of Canadian society,” historian and curator Dr. Sheldon Taylor said. “Like the rest of us, he too looked out to sea and hoped the ship in the distance moving in our direction was one filled with opportunities for people of African descent living in Canada.”
Agard is survived by his wife of eight years, Renette, four children and siblings Rawle – his twin brother — and Carol-Anne Agard who reside in Trinidad & Tobago.
The visitation takes place on Thursday, July 30 at Ogden Funeral Home, 4164 Sheppard Ave. E. (Midland & Sheppard) from 5-9 p.m. Phone number (416) 293-5211.
The final viewing (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and funeral service (beginning at 11 a.m.) are on Friday, July 31, at Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church, 65 Grand Marshall Drive, Scarborough (Morningside and Sheppard).