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Queen’s remembers Professor Emeritus Wycliffe (Cliffe) Lofters

Wycliffe LoftersThe Queen's community is remembering Dr. Wycliffe (Cliffe) Lofters, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Health Sciences, who died June 3 at Mackenzie Health Hospital in Richmond Hill. He was 78.

An extraordinary physician, mentor and leader, Dr. Lofters pursed a career in medicine during an era when Queen’s University’s ban on the admission of Black students in the medical school was still officially in place. Whether it was his patients, students or colleagues, Dr. Lofters dedicated his life to helping those around him. Throughout his career he advocated for increased diversity in medicine and supported individuals with diverse backgrounds at Queen’s and in the Kingston community.

Born in Jamaica, from a young age Dr. Lofters pursued a career in medicine, while also proving himself a star athlete on the track. While studying medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Lofters met his wife, Felicia. Several years later the pair immigrated to Canada and in 1979 Dr. Lofters began working at Queen’s University in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS).

During his time at Queen’s Dr. Lofters established himself as a leader in FHS and in Kingston’s African and Caribbean community. As the Head of Medical Oncology, Dr. Lofters played a crucial role in expanding the then small team of physicians into the prominent and successful one that it is today. Throughout his career he acted as a mentor to faculty and students, teaching important clinical skills along with how to be a caring and compassionate health care provider. Dr. Lofters was also instrumental in the establishment of the chemotherapy unit in Belleville, vastly improving the quality of care for cancer patients in the region.

In addition to his roles within FHS, Dr. Lofters was the co-founder of the Afro-Caribbe Community Foundation of Kingston, an organization created to promote academic, professional and technical excellence among students of the African and Caribbean communities in Kingston. Dr. Lofters acted as the group’s president for several years and was instrumental in establishing two awards within Queen’s University: the Robert Sutherland Memorial Admission Award and the Alfie Pierce Admission Award. Both awards are still presented on an annual basis to students entering the first year of a Queen’s University undergraduate degree program who have demonstrated contributions to the African or Caribbean communities in Canada.

Dr. Lofters was beloved by his students, colleagues, and patients alike. In his many tributes he is praised for his kindness, his compassion, and the genuine respect that he showed everyone regardless of their role.

The success that Dr. Lofters found speaks to his remarkable drive, leadership and expertise while also serving to demonstrate the missed potential created by restrictive admissions policies and practices that operate against Black physicians. Throughout his career Dr. Lofters was a fierce advocate of increased diversity in medical education. To honour his memory, friends and colleagues from the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, the Department of Oncology, and the Afro-Caribe Community Foundation of Kingston are establishing an award for first year students entering an undergraduate degree program at Queen’s who have made contributions to African or Caribbean communities in Canada. Anyone who wishes to donate to this bursary can do so at https://www.givetoqueens.ca/drwycliffelofters.

Read the full article on the Faculty of Health Science’s website, including many tributes from Dr. Lofters’ peers.