Looking for a specific subject?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Blog Has Moved

The redesign of our new website now has our complete blog integrated right into it.

This blog will not be maintained.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We've made it into The Wellington Advertiser!

Group Plans Challenge to Laws for Right to Die
by David Meyer

Over 70 people were at the Harcourt Church here recently to learn about dying with some dignity.

They heard that the group with the name Dying With Dignity is advocating several changes to laws so that people, for example, do not have to live for years with feeding tubes in them.

Retired clergyman Don Johns said mainstream churches are very conservative when it comes to dying, but he takes a liberal view that people should be able to make their own decisions. He was trained by Death With Dignity.

A wonderful summary or a wonderful meeting we hosted in Guelph, Ontario earlier this month.

If you would be interested in helping us get to your community, or would like a speaker to present at your group, please contact our National Office at info@dyingwithdignity.ca or 1. 800. 495. 6156.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

February 2011 issue of The Voice

Our March 2011 issue of The Voice is ready!

The newest issue of The Voice is complete. This 8 page issue covers a diverse number of subjects, and we are sure you will find all articles to be interesting.

Inside you will find:
‘No Need to Go to Switzerland’, an article that explains how our own Client Support Program can offer you dignity at the end-of-life while working within the current Canadian Laws. (Page 1)

‘Youth: A Fountain of Hope’, a beautifully written story by a DWD Canada member on the experiences by her entire family around her mother’s death. (Page 3)

‘Financial Feature’, is a two-page spread that explains where the organization is sitting financially and the various ways we can all help – you’ll be amazed at how easy some of them are. (Pages 4 and 5)

‘The Political Bullies in America Have Won’ and ‘Victory in Montana’ Two articles on what is happening just to the South of us.  (Page 6 and 7)

And 8 full pages of ever so much more.

As always, we are thankful to our members and supporters who had submitted pieces for this issue. Thank you all so much!

To access the most recent issue of The Voice, please click here.

And remember, all of our past issues of The Voice are available on the New & Noteworthy Section of our website, as well as other downloadable informaiton.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter – we welcome any comments, compliments and feedback.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lives Lived

Evelyn Marie Martens, Canadian Right to Die Activist
Obituary by Russel Ogden

Evelyn Martens of Kelowna, British Columbia died on January 2, 2011.  Evelyn was visiting family and grandchildren in Alberta during the Christmas holiday when she suddenly became ill.  She died at Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, a week before her 80th birthday.

Evelyn was born on January 10, 1931, in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, during the hardship of the Great Depression.  At the age of 6 her father died, leaving the family destitute.  For high school, Evelyn had one blouse and one skirt, which she washed daily.  In grade 9 she left school to waitress and help support the family.  She later worked in a liquor store and as a secretary.  All of her life she devoted herself to caring for brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren.

Evelyn married Jack Batsch in 1948 and they had one daughter, Millie.  Jack died in war in Korea.  In 1953, Evelyn married Ed Poelzer and together they had 5 children: Ed, Berny, Mark, Bart, and Les.  They divorced in 1976.  Evelyn had 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren

A turning point for Evelyn was the death of her brother, Cornelius.  He suffered with cancer for 2.5 years and died in 1988.  Evelyn told CBC television’s Fifth Estate that Cornelius died in excruciating pain and that his “bad death” convinced her that there had to be a better way to die.  In 1989, Evelyn moved to Victoria, BC, to join her daughter Berny.

By 1994 Evelyn was a Regional Advisor to the Right to Die Society of Canada.  She later became membership director, provided member-support, and she participated actively in NuTech research for improved methods for self-deliverance.  Evelyn was a compassionate woman and believed nobody should have to die alone.  Around 1997 she sat for the first time at the bedside of an individual who decided to end their suffering by a carefully planned suicide.  When there was nobody else to support a dying person, Evelyn, ever the compassionate one, was there.

In 2002, at the age of 71, Evelyn was charged in the deaths of Monique Charest and Leyanne Burchell.  She was the first and only right-to-die activist in Canada ever prosecuted for the offence of aiding suicide, and she faced a maximum penalty of 28 years in jail.  In the small town of Duncan, BC, Evelyn stood strong through a preliminary inquiry that lasted from November 13, 2002 to June 12, 2003.  The criminal trial started October 12, 2004.  On November 4, 2004 a jury of 12 women and men found Evelyn not guilty.  Evelyn’s victory was celebrated by many Canadians who had come to see her as a caring hero with the courage to stand up for her convictions.  Her solid legal defence by Catherine Tyhurst and Peter Firestone was funded by supporters from around the world who contributed to the Right to Die Society of Canada fundraising campaign.

Evelyn Martens’ acquittal was significant because it clarified that mere compassionate presence at suicide is not a crime in Canada.  In 2005 the Humanist Association of Canada awarded Evelyn Martens the prestigious title, Humanist of the Year. 

Evelyn will be remembered for her sympathy, compassion, sensitivity, and sense of humour.  She had genuine empathy for the suffering of others and she enriched the lives of all who met her.

A service will be held in the spring in Kelowna.  When the ground has thawed, a tree will be planted in Evelyn’s memory.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You for a Busy & Fulfilling 2010!

2010 has been a rebuilding year for Dying With Dignity Canada. We’ve revitalized our Education and Client Support Program, re-initiated members’ meetings, launched new education sessions and presented to a parliamentary committee. None of this would have been possible without your support. To our members and donors who have stood by us in our times of recent adversity, we are most deeply grateful.

If you have not done so yet, but would like to add an end-of-year donation, you can do it easily online here, or see the donations page of our website.

We take this time to wish you and your families the happiest of holiday seasons and the best for 2011.

Take good care.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Submission to Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

After the defeat of Bill C-384 (a bill to amend the Criminal Code to permit medical assistance in dying), an new all-party committee to conduct a country wide consultation on palliative and compassionate care was formed. This committee has already conducted consultations in many places across Canada. At the consultation in Victoria our new Executive Director, Wanda Morris, made a presentation, and a full submission from Dying with Dignity was provided to the committee. You can download this presentation in pdf format from the link below.

If you wish to make a submission of your own, you can email albreH8@parl.gc.ca or mail your submission or letter to: Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care Rm. 402, Justice Building Ottawa, ON. K1A 0A6.

It is important for as many people as possible to contact the committee. To some extent, at least, the purpose of the committee seems to be to explore alternatives to assisted dying, instead of recognising that, for some people, at least, there are no satisfactory alternatives. Palliative and hospice care are vital, and we must make sure that these options are available to all Canadians, so that no one need suffer needlessly when they are dying, as so many now do. But it is time for our parliamentarians to recognise that assisted dying is a legitimate option at the end of life, and that the refusal to provide this option by criminalising assistance in dying, is a form of cruel injustice.

As we say in our submission to the committee, enforced life, by any other name, would be called slavery. Forcing someone to stay alive when they believe that only death can release them from intolerable suffering is an unjustified restriction of individual freedom. Let the committee know that, while we all want to see improvements in end-of-life care, the option of assisted dying must be provided for those who have made an informed, stable choice to die. Dying with dignity is available only if the choice of assisted dying is available. Perhaps only a few will avail themselves of it, but, without it, people are being forced to die in a way of someone else's choosing. Let your MP know that this is wrong.

If you would like a copy of the full submission made to the parliamentary committee, please email our National Office at info@dyingwithdignity.ca, or you can download it directly from our website, by clicking here.

Whose Death is it Anyway?

Canada’s highest court ruled that euthanasia is illegal, but that won’t stop some doctors from helping terminally ill patients die.

By Daniel Wood, November 18, 2010

Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Russel Ogden says that polls have
indicated a significant increase in Canadians’ support for right-to-die legislation.

Stephen Gardiner’s real name or where he lives cannot be divulged because well-intentioned friends might try to stop him from killing himself. And he doesn’t want them implicated. Wolf Obgielo’s name can be made known because the details of the assistance he’ll get when he decides to die will not be revealed here. Both men are terminally ill with cancer and both want to choose—without the interference of authorities—the time and circumstances of their death.

.... read more

Friday, November 12, 2010

Our New Executive Director

Donald Babey, President of the Board of Directors of Dying With Dignity Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Wanda Morris as Executive Director. 

Wanda Morris is a Vancouver-area Chartered Accountant with over 20 years of business experience.  She has held senior financial roles in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors.  Ms Morris holds a Master of Arts Degree in Transforming Spirituality and is a member of the Canadian Association of Public Speakers.

Our members will be familiar with the name: For the past two years Ms Morris has served with distinction on the Board of Directors of DWD Canada, most recently as Vice-President and Chair of the Fundraising and Membership Committee. In recognition of our membership strength on the West Coast, she will continue to be based out of Vancouver but will travel to Toronto on a regular basis.  This is a part-time (50%) position.

Donald Babey says: “I am absolutely thrilled that Wanda has agreed to take on this role.  The organization acknowledged that we needed an Executive Director to move forward, and we wanted to ensure that we found the right person.  I feel that having Wanda in this role is an extremely positive step forward for Dying With Dignity Canada.”

Wanda kicked off her new role by presenting to the all-party parliamentary committee on palliative and compassionate care on Wednesday, November 9th.

Her presentation, and our complete submission, is available by email. If you would like a copy, or if you should like to contact Wanda, please email wmorris@dyingwithdignity.ca.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blog Submission from a Member

We welcome any members to write in and share your story or opinion with us. One member wrote the following piece, sparked by an earlier blog post "We've Still Got a Lot of Work to Do...

REVIEW OF "THE QUALITY OF DEATH" -  Economist Intelligence Unit
Commissioned by the LIEN FOUNDATION,  2010
By: John A. Thomson   MD  DPH

It was pleasing to note that the discussion of these subjects has reached an impressive level on a global basis - a discussion long overdue. The principal Canadian expert consultant was Sharon Baxter, Executive Director, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

I have become accustomed to reading medical scientific papers, and the methodology employed in this EIU paper may not meet usual rigorous scientific standards in all respects, but given the limitations of sources available the results are still quite impressive. It is hoped that in Canada a more detailed presentation may eventually become available to guide those in need of help and those engaged in planning, investigations in a milieu where essential details for sources are forthcoming.

The vexing Hippocratic Oath so often quoted in the popular press is as usual not specifically identified, but no doubt its reference in the paper is to some more recent revision of the original oath. (Wikipedia explains).

There seemed to be a considerable bias in this paper in favour of government involvement in distributing services, but in Canada we find that comprehensive national medical care has obviously serious shortcomings and apparently will soon run out of funds. I agree with a later comment in the paper that the movement for hospice and palliative care needs to stay close to government essentially to change legislation or the administration of it to favour improved relief for problems of pain. At least we should be able to return to the patterns of patient care which existed prior to “The War on Drugs“.

The opioids question is attacked on page 28 quite well. In Canada deficiencies in this respect are almost as severe as in less fortunate countries. Some of my own experiences and those of friends with younger physicians indicate a considerable physician ignorance about opioids. To correct it we need to look carefully at universities to discover why this phase of teaching has become so reduced. Some debates become quite irascible, where one side may accuse others of being “junkies”, or the opposite side may consider their opponents as “sadistic monsters”. There are numerous references to various opioids in this paper, but it needs to be understood that some medical conditions are beyond the reach of opioids and require other techniques.

On page 13 for example, the fact that “in Canada hospitalisation is 100% funded by the state” is presented as if it would be an advantage rather than have the usual retardant effects we so frequently see. So that if we are looking for niche types of problems and solutions, I would expect answers to arise from the private sector first, then eventually be developed by the government when political decisions direct action.

In scientific medical papers it is now quite refreshing to note the addition of ethical considerations such as liens with or support by pharmaceutical firms or tendencies of some physicians to create iatrogenic diseases - quite blunt approaches to these issues compared to the past. More discussion about these patterns may have been perhaps added to the cultural issues section (2) or the economics of health care (3) insofar as the general health care industry is concerned - an expansion perhaps of Dr. Kevorkian’s original complaints about what is “good for business” or “bad for business”. 

*** Note: The opinions and views above are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, stance or mission of Dying With Dignity Canada, it's staff or volunteers.***

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Doctors and nurses launch campaign for right to help terminally ill to end their lives

Dr. Ann McPherson
Leading doctors who endorse assisted dying for the terminally ill will this week launch an unprecedented campaign to change the law on the right to die.

Healthcare Professionals for Change, a group of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, says it wants to challenge bodies such as the British Medical Association, which opposes any change in the law that would allow others to help terminally ill people to die.

The group is the first professional body of its kind to be set up with the explicit aim of changing the 1961 Suicide Act, which forbids such assistance.

The group will be chaired by Dr Ann McPherson, a GP and fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of Green College, Oxford, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

Read more....