Dr. Ruby Lake-Richards who came from the Caribbean and forged a well-respected career as a psychiatrist at the Douglas Mental Health University for nearly 40 years and a lecturer at McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry stands as one of our most illustrious medical professionals as she approaches her centenary.
The 99-year-old who was born in Antigua, is the first female graduate from that country and the only surviving alumni of the University of The West Indies (UWI) inaugural class.
On Saturday July 31, Dr. Lake who still makes her home in Montreal received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from UWI, to mark her lifetime contributions to the field.
It was back in 1948, when she was one of 33 students from across the region who registered to study Medicine at the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI).
Of that ground-breaking cohort at the medical school, Dr. Lake Richards was one of 10 women and one of two students from Antigua and Barbuda in what was the first faculty of the university.
She received her medical degree from the UCWI in 1954, then interned at the
Holberton Hospital in St. John’s, Antigua before starting clinical work and her private practice in the city of Glanvilles.
In 1967, Dr. Lake-Richards migrated to Canada with her husband Sir Novelle Hamilton Richards, who moved to Montreal in his newly appointed position as the first Diplomatic Trade Commissioner to Canada serving the countries of the Eastern Caribbean.
She immediately started postgraduate study at McGill in Canada in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry while also working at the Reddy Memorial
Hospital and the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
In 1977, she received her Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and with it the recognition “by the public and the entire health community as proof of (her) outstanding, world-class expertise.”
Dr. Lake-Richards’medical career spanned well over 60 years, four decades of which was spent at the Douglas here in Montreal. She retired in 2015 at the age of 93.
The July 31 convocation at which the honorary
Doctor of Science degree was bestowed to her, was held at Five Islands Campus of UWI that was recently opened in Antigua & Barbuda.
The pro vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Densil Williams paid
tribute to Dr. Lake Richards: “Being Antiguan and being honoured by the youngest campus in the UWI system, domiciled in her country of birth is special and even more so that she is alive and in good health to receive this accolade from her alma mater.”
On November 1,following the recommendation of the prime minister of
Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne she was bestowed the title of damehood, which is “the most senior honour in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.”
Dame Dr. Lake-Richards will be honored at the Antigua & Barbuda Association of
Montreal 40th Anniversary of Independence celebration, which is being streamed on Saturday, November 20 .