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Obituary of Jacqueline Gem Mahabir
Jacqueline Gem Mahabir, née Meghu, died peacefully in her sleep on October 12, 2022,
at the age of 88, after a second fight with Covid-19.
Mother to four, and “Mom” or Auntie Jacq to dozens more, she was the warmth and
gentleness at the centre of our family’s universe. Her children’s friends and the extended
family all had an open invitation to visit and have a cup of tea or share a meal, and they
all knew they’d be treated to a loving embrace, and lively and fun conversation.
Born in San Fernando, Trinidad in 1934, Mom’s tales of her childhood and youth with her
large and loving family of 10 kids were told so often, and with such colour, that we felt
we’d lived that life with her. Stories about her giggling fits with her sisters, her early
education taught by Scottish nuns, starting her career as a young teacher, and the day
she realized she was in love with our Dad – these fascinating tales took us back with her
to her Trinidad days.
Having moved to Canada in 1958 to marry Harold Edwin Mahabir, the love of her life, she
very soon started living a new set of stories. Together with their young and growing
family, they moved to England for a few years, then returned to Canada where Harold’s
work took them to Ontario, Newfoundland, Quebec and back to Ontario, settling in
Toronto in 1980, where she became part of a community she loved. Harold’s three-year
secondment to Kenya in the mid-1980s and their two granddaughters born soon after
they returned to Canada were highlights in their life.
Jacqueline was fiercely intelligent and determined to stay informed and educated on all
things, taking continuing education classes at University of Toronto into her 70s and
reading two newspapers every day. She dove into her volunteer work as an adult literacy
teacher and into her art, including sculpting and painting. A role model, a loving mother
and grandmother, a kind and caring aunt, and a devoted friend, Jacqueline’s unwavering
and unconditional love both supported and strengthened her children and set the
example by which they try to live their lives.
She now reunites with her beloved husband Harold, who predeceased her in 2003, and
many of her siblings – Beulah, Joyce, Vilma, Jean, Roslyn, Carl, and Cisley, and their
spouses. She leaves behind her children Alex (Al Milley), Nigel, David, and Nicole;
grandchildren Lucy Poley (Tim Carlielle) and Grace Poley (Eric McConnell) and their
father Dave Poley; her new great-grandson Leon; her sisters Hazel (Les Organ) and
Carol Hill; sister-in-law Ilene Meghu; and brother-in-law Cyril Mykoo. Missing her dearly
are the many nieces, nephews, cousins, other family and friends whom she loved so
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Alzheimer's Society are appreciated.
Details of a Celebration of Jacqueline’s life will be shared at a later date.