'The legacy is enormous:' hundreds mourn Dr. William Barakett

Barakett was known for his extensive work on addiction and chronic pain, but also as an outspoken advocate for rural patients.

Eastern Townships doctor remembered as pillar of Quebec's medical community

Dr. William Barakett was known for his work with chronic pain and addiction. (Submitted by Elise Barakett)

Dr. William Barakett was a pillar of the Lac-Brome community, a doctor for more than 45 years and a leader in Quebec's medical field. He died earlier this week at the age of 74 after a six-month battle with brain cancer.

Barakett is remembered for his extensive work on addiction and chronic pain and as an outspoken advocate for rural patients.  

"My father felt deeply for his patients' welfare, no matter who they were, they enriched his life," wrote his daughter, Elise Barakett in an email. "He was captivated by their insights, their interests, their experiences, as well as their health."

Barakett had been practicing in the Eastern Townships for more than 45 years.

Dr. Michel Camirand, Barakett's longtime colleague and a family physician in Sutton, Que., told CBC's Breakaway Barakett was a role model for healthcare providers. 

Camirand said Barakett always emphasized the importance of studying addiction and chronic pain. 

"He was so dedicated and engaged with his patients," Camirand said. "He was a model on that. He's kind of also a hero of medicine, not because he founded a lot of things, but because he cared so much about this profession."

Dr. William Barakett, right, with his wife Janie and children David and Elise. (Spencer Van Dyk/CBC)

Barakett launched his career at the Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins Hospital in Cowansville, Que. in 1972.

He then served as the chief of medicine at the hospital and president of its foundation.

Barakett was also president of the Butters Foundation — a local organization supporting people with disabilities — and was an advisor at Dunham House, a mental health treatment centre.

People in the community of Lac-Brome are sharing memories of Dr. William Barakett this week. He was a family doctor for more than thirty years and held several titles, including Vice President of the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners. Breakaway's Alison Brunette spoke with Dr. Michel Camirand, a long-time colleague of Dr. Barakett. 9:27
Dr. William Barakett is being remembered as an active and engaged member of his community. (Submitted by Elise Barakett)

He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002 for being "a family doctor who goes beyond the call of duty."

Camirand said that despite Barakett's long list of accomplishments, he still had several projects and plans for the future.

Though he didn't want to stop practicing until he found a replacement, Barakett was forced to retire in April because of his cancer diagnosis.

"He did more than a lot of doctors will ever do — the legacy is enormous," Camirand said.

Helen McCubbin — a local retired nurse and friend of Barakett's — called the impact of his retirement "huge."

"Not only was he my family doctor,  he knew my family, he knew us. If we called him up, he knew just how important something was when we went to him," she told CBC News in April.

Hundreds of condolence messages

Since his death, hundreds of messages commemorating Barakett have poured in on social media.

The Town of Lac-Brome paid tribute to the doctor as a "pillar of the region's health care system," and a "man of exemplary commitment," while the BMP Foundation wrote that he will be remembered for "his generous and altruistic character."

"Always looking for the best solution for his patients, he cared about the well-being of every member of his community," the BMP Foundation wrote in a Facebook post. 

A visitation will be held in Cowansville on Sept. 13, followed by a funeral in Knowlton Sept. 14.

With files from CBC's Breakaway


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