Philanthropists Irene and Les Dubé received honorary degrees from USask in 2007. (Photo: Terri Feltham Photography)
Philanthropists Irene and Les Dubé received honorary degrees from USask in 2007. (Photo: Terri Feltham Photography)

USask mourns the passing of Dr. Leslie Dubé

The Saskatoon philanthropist, who died on March 13, 2024, at the age of 91, was bestowed with an honorary degree in 2007 for his many contributions to the University of Saskatchewan and to organizations across the province.

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is remembering the legacy of Saskatoon philanthropist Dr. Leslie (Les) Dubé (LLD’07), who passed away on March 13, 2024, at the age of 91.

“On behalf of the University of Saskatchewan, I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Dubé family, and to their many friends and colleagues,” said USask President Dr. Peter Stoicheff (PhD).

“We are extremely grateful for the visionary contributions that Les and his wife Irene have made to USask and to organizations throughout our province. Les has been a community builder and leader whose generosity will have a lasting impact on our university and on the lives of Saskatchewan citizens for many years to come.”

Les and Irene Dubé were born and raised in Wynyard, Sask., and married in 1954. Just six years later, they made their first private-sector investment by purchasing land on Eighth Street East in Saskatoon, and, by 1969, they opened a small business office to manage their growing venture.

The Dubés have attributed the continued success of their Concorde Group of Companies to hard work, sound business practices, and a social consciousness. In 1993, they decided to donate money accumulated from their business interests to charities, and, since then, their philanthropic efforts have focused on health, education, religion, and poverty locally and internationally.

In 2006, Les and Irene Dubé were inducted into the SABEX Hall of Fame and were recognized during the City of Saskatoon Centennial as part of the 100 Who Made a Difference. In 2007, at USask’s spring Convocation, they received their honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Saskatchewan—the highest honour that USask can bestow. In 2008, they received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the province’s highest honour, and in 2017, in recognition of their philanthropic contributions, they were named Members of the Order of Canada.

The Dubés have supported more than 100 different charities in the province, including a $10-million donation to support the University of Saskatchewan Health Sciences project. In their honour, a state-of-the-art library and a large lecture theatre in the Health Sciences Building were named the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library and the Leslie and Irene Dubé Theatre.

“This donation to the University of Saskatchewan brings together our desires to share our wealth in both education and health,” Les Dubé said at the time of the donation in 2011. “We are building one of the finest facilities in the country and lives will be changed in Saskatchewan and beyond because of the way future generations of health-care professionals will learn together within this facility.”

In 2012, St. Thomas More College (STM) at USask announced a $1-million leadership gift from the Dubés to STM’s $6-million capital campaign. In recognition of the gift, and in honour of their sustained generous support of the college over the years, STM dedicated the Chair for Catholic Studies in their name as the Leslie and Irene Dubé Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas More College.

Also in 2012, Leslie and Irene Dubé were recognized as Honoured Supporters of the University of Saskatchewan in celebration of National Philanthropy Day. The designation is awarded each year to influential community members and philanthropists at the Association of Fundraising Professionals luncheon, a gathering of donors, fundraisers, and volunteers in Saskatoon. The Dubés were selected for the special honour for their inspiring example of charitable leadership in the province through their ongoing commitment to USask.

Throughout his life, Les Dubé held leadership positions with charities and non-profit organizations in Saskatchewan, including the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Knights of Columbus, the Saskatchewan Diabetes Association, and many others. He also served on the inaugural board of the Saskatoon Economic Development Authority, now SREDA, and his contribution to the early development of the authority was considered instrumental in its success. With a strong service commitment to the health sector, he chaired the St. Paul’s Hospital Board of Management from 1989 to 1994 and was a founding member of the Saskatoon Health Authority.

While managing the family business interests, Irene Dubé also provided service to the university, serving as a member of the Board of Governors from 1987 to 1989. The couple has made numerous donations to USask over the years, including a gift of $1 million in 2020 to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

The Les and Irene Dubé Good Samaritan Fund helps to support medical treatment at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre for animals that are ownerless or who are owned by clients who cannot pay for care due to circumstances beyond their control. The Dubés first came to the WCVM’s Small Animal Clinic when their first dog, Peppermint, collapsed one day and couldn’t walk. After undergoing surgery, Peppermint spent months in therapy with the WCVM’s rehabilitation team and recovered. It was the couple’s experience with Peppermint, along with other surgeries needed for their two Bichon Frise dogs, that made them want to help others.

In 2020, the Dubés spoke about the unconditional love that their two Maltese poodles, Sugar and Ginger, brought to their lives, and of their desire for other people to be able to enjoy their own pets for many years as well.

“Those little doggies are always happy,” said Les. “We can help people to help save the lives of their pets, who provide such forgiving love to humans . . . it just felt like the time to support animals.”

Earlier this month, just days before Les Dubé’s passing, it was announced that the couple made a $2-million donation to bring a new nuclear imaging scanner to the Royal University Hospital (RUH), which is located on the USask campus.

Together we will support and inspire students to succeed. We invite you to join by supporting current and future students' needs at USask.

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