One year ago, Living With Dignity Canada became a legal entity, launched this website, and published the first instalment of this blog. Happy Birthday to Us!
We launched with great expectations, but quickly learned that virtual reality is a crowded space, and attention is hard to get!
It’s true for everyone, but perhaps especially true for those of us who are talking about difficult subjects that are not entertaining by nature. Not only is death, whether natural or assisted, a sad topic. It may be tragic, triggering, discouraging, enraging and heartbreaking. It takes extraordinary commitment to voluntarily engage with the topic of death in a serious way. I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to readers who have followed us as we have taken our tentative steps along this treacherous pathway.
For those of you who are disappointed with our progress, I want to gently remind you that we are real people with real lives — caregiving lives that make demands on our time, our physical and emotional energy — and that we’ve never tried to do anything like this before. That said, I’m proud to say that we remain committed to our vision and mission:
We aspire to be proud citizens of our country, Canada. We want to put a stop to the expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). The Canada we want to live in would value, support and celebrate the lives of people with disabilities and mental illnesses.
We are engaged in a long-term effort to shift cultural views in favour of equally valuing the dignified lives of all Canadians.
We believe that there are historic inequalities in our treatment of native Canadians, disabled peoples, women, racial and other minorities that must be acknowledged and bravely addressed. We applaud and encourage all who are presently engaged in such efforts.
We are not opposed to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) for people who are dying.
We are strongly opposed to the expansion of MAiD to people who are not dying, as set out in law in 2021. We want the Government of Canada to repeal that legislation.
Medical assistance in dying, as first enacted in response to the Supreme Court’s Carter decision (as Bill C-14, 2015), introduced an informed and thoughtful approach that met the need to provide assisted death upon request to those whose suffering was grievous and irremediable, and whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable. This is the standard that we advocate should be maintained.
One of our accomplishments: a mission statement. Let us know if we got it right! If not, what would you suggest? There’s a comment button at the bottom of every page. Or you can send us an email: admin @ living-with-dignity.ca
We’ve moved in SMALL steps towards that mission. Our first birthday is the time to celebrate those baby steps. For example:
- We launched a Facebook page, which greatly increased our ability to reach out to the communities we want to engage with. (We are not the Kardashians and we don’t aspire to be! But we greatly appreciate our committed readers and action-takers!)
- We have honoured our mission by honoring the people that LWD is about. Take a moment in our Reflection Room to remember those who are no longer with us, and visit the Lives in the Balance page. If you have updates on how any of these folks are doing, please, please share! And help out if you can by visiting their GoFundMe pages and donating — any amount, small or large can make a difference and let them know that people care. A gift to any or all of them today would be the best kind of birthday gift for us!
- We’ve also been making a contribution to the movement towards the rolling back of C-7 by contributing hours of work to building the evidence archive. The expansion has been a fast moving juggernaut and it’s critically important to document the RESISTANCE work being done by so many wonderful people. Check out our Testimony to Government page — especially the AMAD committee hearings of 2022. The videos are cropped and easy to find. Many community members (in Canada and internationally) are finding it helpful. We continue to add to what is already documented both forward and backwards in time, including testimony regarding the original bill C-14. It’s all there on the governments record, it just takes time and patience to get it organized and documented — but we’re getting there!
- Speaking of developments, we have also maintained a pretty good record of media coverage and begun an archive page. Many of these clippings come to us from supporters, so if there’s an article, news clip, documentary, movie or anything you think should be featured, either here or elsewhere on the website, please pass it along. If you know a researcher or journalist (or politician at any level of government) who shares our concerns around these issues, please send them our way!
- We’ve been adding our voice to these efforts: we wrote a brief to the joint parliamentary/senate committee (AMAD); we challenged the Minister of Health regarding research funding; we signed on to a major letter authored by BCANDS, etc. We are always on the watch for concrete actions we can take. Please let us know if there is someplace you think we could make a difference!
- We’ve been helping people to engage with the political process by encouraging submissions to relevant committees, distributing petitions, urging phone calls, etc. There’s an important petition circulating now regarding mental illness — please be sure to sign on!
- We joined the list of organizations supporting the VPS — that’s the Vulnerable Persons Standard. “The Standard incorporates five evidence-based safeguards intended to protect the lives of Canadians. These safeguards [would, if adopted] help to ensure that Canadians requesting assistance from physicians to end their life can do so without jeopardizing the lives of vulnerable persons who may be subject to coercion, inducement to suicide and abuse.” We encourage readers to visit the VPS website and familiarize yourselves with the very impressive documents developed by a highly esteemed group of professionals from many fields. We are SO not alone!
- We’ve let the folks at ARCH (Disability Law Centre) know that we’re on board for any future actions, both national and international.
- We’ve taken baby-steps in advocacy for safe housing options for people with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities). (Nothing that we can share just yet, but we’ll keep you posted.)
No single submission or signature is likely to move the mountain or stem the tide, but every action taken adds to the overall effort to restoring Canada to a caring community that supports and encourages Canadians, rather than giving them the finger of death.
We want to thank our supporters and salute all the folks out there that are taking their own steps, big or baby. We’re with them even if they don’t know we exist!