Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dr. Margaret Charlotte Mahood Passes

Published in The The Star Phoenix on May 16, 2013

Dr. Margaret Mahood (nee Fisher), 94, died peacefully May 11, 2013. Receiving loving care in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Sally Mahood and John Conway, Margaret's last year of decline was enriched by many visits from her son, Robbie Mahood of Montreal, her many grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and a few close friends. She was born June 14, 1918, and raised in Alameda, Saskatchewan. The eldest of three daughters who maintained close lifelong relationships, Margaret excelled academically and went on to university.

Margaret was among a small number of pioneering feminists, contributing to the early shattering of many glass ceilings faced by the women of her era. She began her career as a teacher, and while teaching in Rockglen, Saskatchewan, met fellow teacher Ed Mahood. They married in 1942 and had two children, Robbie in 1946 and Sally in 1950. With the devoted support of Ed, Margaret later studied medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and then McGill, one of a handful of women in the graduating class of 1955. She went on to specialize in psychiatry.
Both committed socialists, she and Ed returned to the province to play key roles in the battle for Medicare in Saskatchewan. In Saskatoon, fresh from gaining her certification in psychiatry, Margaret was one of the few doctors refusing to join the 1962 Doctors' Strike against Medicare, becoming a founding member of the Saskatoon Community Clinic. There she helped establish a group of progressive physicians from far and wide, with whom she developed strong and enduring friendships. She remained at the Clinic practicing psychiatry, served a term as its medical director, and taught psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine. Throughout her professional and private life Margaret remained a determined defender of universal public health care to which she and so many others had been dedicated, joining the battle when called against those who would dismantle it.

Over the decades Margaret and Ed strongly supported progressive causes and their home served as a meeting place for those, young and old, who were seeking to change the world. In her later years, Margaret was deeply concerned about the state of the world, and the future of the young in an increasingly cruel and conservative world.

Margaret's progressive feminism was a focus of her life, professional, social, and political. She was among the first small group of women psychiatrists practicing in Canada. She emphasized the community, cultural, and social determinants of health in general, and mental health in particular. In her professional and social life she became an important mentor to many younger women. She was an avid pro-choice advocate, not only as a psychiatrist, but as a woman and mother active in the political life of her community. She participated in the Abortion Caravan in 1970, a key political event in women winning freedom of choice in Canada. Throughout her life she remained a staunch advocate, in both professional and public fora, of women's rights, including reproductive choice.

Margaret was a woman of many interests. She read avidly and widely until her eyes failed her in her last years. She loved to travel, enjoying a year in New York in 1947 while Ed completed his doctorate at Columbia. There she acquired a lifelong love of opera. In 1961, she joined Ed in the Middle East where he was establishing UN-sponsored teacher training for Palestinian refugees. In 1971, they revisited the Middle East and sailed down the African coast to South Africa. During these intrepid travels, Margaret immersed herself in the history, culture, and politics of the areas. She and Ed made enduring friendships and became committed supporters of the Palestinian and anti-apartheid struggles.

Margaret loved art and she encouraged and supported local Saskatchewan artists. She was a dedicated letter-writer up until her health deserted her, receiving correspondence from all over the world, and meticulously responding in her own hand. vp+3In 1993, Margaret and Ed moved to Regina from Saskatoon, the city they loved best. Ed died shortly thereafter and Margaret built a new and varied life in Regina, making new friends and devoting herself to her interests. She enrolled in classes at the Seniors' Centre, never missing a class on the Middle East. She maintained a lively interest in politics, and was not shy in sharing her strong opinions. Family dinners continued to be lively debates about politics and the state of the world, with Margaret sharing readings and newspaper clippings with those she thought needed education.

Margaret was an engaging, intellectually curious, and formidable woman of her time, and of our time, right to the end. Those who had the privilege to know her will never forget her. Those who had the privilege to love her, and be loved by her, enjoyed a rare blessing.

She is predeceased by her parents, lifetime partner Ed, and dear sister Jean (Doodie) Kilcoyne. She is survived by her sister Mary Jamieson of Sherwood Park; her son, Robert Mahood of Montreal and his four daughters [Meaghen Hogg, Marie-Laure Mahood (Andy McKenna), Juliana Mahood, Marjolaine Mahood]; and her daughter, Sally Mahood of Regina (John Conway), and their four children [Liam Conway (Vicki), Aidan Conway (Melissa Compain), Kieran Conway and Meara Conway]; and five great- grandchildren, Dervla, Aengus, Finn, Lena, and Margot.

A Memorial Celebration of Margaret's life will be held at "The Artful Dodger," 1631 11th Avenue, Regina, Saturday, May 25, 2013, Come and Go 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. with Program at 2:00 p.m.

Donations, in lieu of flowers can be made to any of the following:
Canadian Physicians for Medicare, 340 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1H4
Saskatoon Community Clinic, 455 2nd Ave N, Saskatoon, SK. S7K 2C2
Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights,
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East,
Station 20 West - 1120 20th St. W., Saskatoon, SK, S7M OY8

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