Longtime Concordia employee and beloved mother of Sen. and LtGen Roméo Dallaire (ret), Juliette and Yolande, Catherine Vermaessen Dallaire passed away peacefully on September 20, 2012, at the age of 93, with her family by her side.
Born in the Netherlands in 1919, she met and married Canadian Army Staff-Sergeant Roméo Louis Dallaire in Brussels in December 1945. In December of 1946, Catherine Dallaire, trained as a nurse in the Netherlands, immigrated to Canada as a war bride with her six-month-old son, Roméo, in tow. She was carrying Roméo in a basket when she disembarked from their Red Cross ship at Pier 21 in Halifax, where she boarded a Red Cross train headed westward to unite war brides with their families.
In 1967, she began her career at Sir George Williams University (SGWU), working as a cashier in the Henry F. Hall Building cafeteria. Her benevolence was witnessed by many when she gave free food to students whom she knew were hungry. She continued her career at SGWU, which later became Concordia University, working mainly in the Purchasing Department and taking her retirement in 1984.
Her compassion and generosity were obvious to all who knew her and her strong character was a motivating force behind her son Roméo’s career in the Canadian Forces and his humanitarian work with the United Nations.
Dallaire, now the Senior Fellow at Concordia’s Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and Co-Director of the MIGS Will to Intervene Project, works closely with MIGS research projects and speaks regularly at MIGS conferences and workshops aimed at preventing genocide.
“Catherine Dallaire leaves behind a legacy of compassion and honour that continues to be carried out by her family and by all those who knew her,” said MIGS’ director, Professor Frank Chalk. “Her spirit lives on in Roméo Dallaire’s work with us and his continuing engagement with Concordia University.”
A memorial service was held on September 26, 2012, at the St-Mathieu church in Beloeil, Que. Frank Chalk, Kyle Matthews and Marie Lamensch attended as representatives of MIGS and Concordia University.
Read today's related article: "Ottawa pledges its will to intervene" — NOW, September 26, 2012