From St. Thomas Jamaica to Portsmouth, Dominica the story of nurse & nation builder – Olivia “Olive” Douglas -Nee Bryan

Olive Douglas

Nurse Olivia Douglas nee Bryan was born in the parish of St. Thomas, Jamaica on April 4, 1941. She traveled to the United Kingdom in the late 1950s to study nursing. While at nursing school she befriended and then married the late Michael “Mike” Douglas, who was then a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force. Douglas was the first son of the most famous Dominican planter/politician/hotelier of the last century, Robert Bernard Douglas, known on Dominica as “RBD.” RBD, by thrift and dint of industrious effort had traveled to Curacao during World War II and made a small fortune in that Dutch island’s oil industry. Returning to Dominica, RBD bought the largest estate in the north of the island and then invested in a cinema, guesthouse, supermarket, and small coastal vessel.

In a fascinating 2022 interview, Nurse Douglas recounted her life in nursing and nation-building to Dominica-born attorney Gabriel J. Christian who knew Nurse Douglas as student leader alongside her husband Mike and his younger brother Roosevelt “Rosie” Douglas.

During the build-up to Dominica’s independence from Britain, Mike was then Minister of Communications and Works and later Minister of Agriculture in the pre-independence Dominica government. Rosie Douglas is known to history as the leader of the 1969 Sir George Williams University protest by Caribbean students in Canada.

Before becoming Dominica’s Prime Minister in 2000, Douglas became perhaps the best-known Caribbean Black Power advocate, and Pan Africanist. For a while, Douglas served as the Executive Director of World Mathaba in Libya aiding the African National Congress in its efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime then ruling South Africa.  In the interview nurse Douglas speaks of her role in nursing, as Dominica moved from colonial rule to independence on November 3, 1978.

Community Health Centre

As a member of that most prominent Dominican political family, nurse Douglas becomes a leader in the development of that island’s well-respected community-based healthcare system. Nurse Douglas was at the forefront of campaigns to eradicate diseases such as yaws (a chronic bacterial infection of the skin, joints, and bones) and promoted community health projects that significantly reduced worm infestation in the north of the island. Douglas later became an instructor at Dominica’s nursing school.

In 2022 the Government of Dominica dedicated a new community health center in honor of her work to improve healthcare on the island. Even in retirement, nurse Douglas – or “Nurse” as she is commonly known to all in her community, volunteers her time to assist at-risk and marginalized youth through the CALLS youth leadership training project. The motto of CALLS is “Where adolescents learn to love and serve.”

Nurse Douglas was honored with the high honor of Dominica’s Meritorious Service Award in 2006, having rendered over forty years of faithful and dedicated service in the field of nursing to the nation. A widow (Mike Douglas passed away in 1992 of cancer) nurse Douglas is the mother of Robert Douglas an architect, Ian Douglas an attorney and former MP for Portsmouth, and Hakim Douglas an IT professional.

Though born in Jamaica, nurse Douglas gave her all to Dominica. Her monumental contributions to nation-building in Dominica speaks eloquently to the value of service to the Caribbean nation and the unity and love that binds our people. Truly, the amazing life’s work of nurse Olivia “Olive” Douglas is worthy of commendation, emulation, and memorialization.

(The full interview of nurse Olivia Douglas is available here.}

(c) The Ward Post/Gabriel Christian

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  1. Petro Cassell
    April 10, 2024

    A well loved soul in Portsmouth and by extension all of Dominca. thank you nurse Douglas for your unwavering dedication and commitment of care and love to so many.

    Thank you Gabriel Christian and DNOfor sharing this article.

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 9, 2024

    So, we read about about Robert, made a fortune in the oil industry in Curacao!
    Is this true?
    Hate me or like me I don’t care: when we are talking about an oil industry we are implying. “Oil and gas production is a multi-stage entire process of discovering a resource, transporting it to a refinery, and turning it into a finished product ready for sale. Or, in industry terminology, upstream, midstream, and downstream segments.”
    There are no source of crude oil in Curacao, what was there was a very large Shell Oil Refinery, they bought crude from the Middle East brought it to Curacao and process the product.
    They did the same as Dominica born Frank D St. Hillier did with WIOC in Antigua. Cleaning up Rosie Douglas act is futile, Rosie took his own mouth and said the closest he came to holding a job was when he ran five terrorist camp in Libya, we remember he instigated the burning of the computer science lab at Sir George Williams University in Canada!
    Let the truth be known too!

  3. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 9, 2024

    I may not have an issue with recognizing her working in Dominica, nevertheless, she is and was no special gift to Dominica, she came to Dominica because she was married to Micheal, in England; so if they did not want to remain in England, the alternative would be either Dominica or Jamaica!
    I read all of it, and I suppose Gabriel wrote it as he was told, it is one thing for someone to distort history, forgetting that there are people who are yet alive, and sort of know the history of RBD (Robert B. Douglas)! And let me just say buying a portion of land a Bedford truck, a boat the called a Lunch, and having a rum-shop, in which everything was sold is not such of a great accomplishment, in the late 1930’s/ 1940’s ; building the kind of house the Douglas lived in then did not cost thousands of Dollars.
    Indeed it would appear that Robert was rich, but he was not any better off than Frobel Laville, a Carib Indian, and another, Larond, and Morris Telemaque!
    Will be back.

  4. Velma Ambo
    April 9, 2024

    Well deserved recognition.Sister Douglas has made, and continues to make a holistic contribution to Dominica, especially the people of Portsmouth.Thank you and stay blessed.

  5. Anthony P Ismael
    April 8, 2024

    They don’t create these types of women anymore. Talent, dedication and value beyond reproach. Thank you, Nurse Douglas, for your service to the welfare of the common man and woman in Dominica. Thank you for dedicating your life to the healthcare sector and serving the masses, without fear or favor. That type of service and dedication will never be recreated. Job well done. A woman we can emulate and be proud of.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0
  6. Writer
    April 8, 2024

    I always enjoy hearing and reading about great people, however this article was very much all over the place. Whoever wrote this is not much of a writer I must say.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • James
      April 9, 2024

      Well if you actually read the article you would have seen in the heading that it was written by Gabriel Christian…!!!

  7. Frank N Stein
    April 8, 2024

    Gone are the days when wives of politicians had class, values and morals. Now is gatay wass we have for politicians and wives.

    Kudos to you Nurse for your contribution to Portsmouth and Dominica.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

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