Message from Co-Chairs
Welcome to the Council on Palliative Care.
2020 – the year of a world-wide COVID-19 pandemic - is a year that has changed us all! The mandates for social distancing, wearing face masks and not being able to assemble in groups has changed the way we can support each other in times of death, loss and grief. Professional and lay caregivers are coping with stress, isolation, frustration, anger and sadness as the way care can be given has changed. But as we all learn to navigate these physical restrictions and find new ways of communicating with people on Zoom, FaceTime and other technologies, it has become even clearer that the essence of our work has not changed at all.
Twenty-six years ago, Kappy Flanders founded the Council on Palliative Care because she saw the need for the community to be active in advocating for palliative care. The Council on Palliative Care is a volunteer-based Council and this is part of its success. We all have personal and/or professional experience with caregiving and end-of-life issues and we share a passion for making palliative care accessible to all. Our work in advocacy for palliative care; in helping people have conversations about end-of-life issues, and in providing caregivers with the resources, support and information they need has never been more important or relevant.
This past year has seen the loss of our beloved Founder, Kappy Flanders; long time Council member, Teresa Dellar and recently, our community colleague, Father John Walsh. As we mourn their loss, we stand on their shoulders and those of all of the leaders in our field as we learn from their vision, their passion and their total belief in the power of a compassionate and informed community to be a force for change in end-of-life care.
Over its many years, the Council’s commitment to education has seen us host multiple lectures from world-leaders in palliative care, and community workshops for caregivers, details of which are on our website. We have developed training modules, manuals and videos for volunteers in palliative care and we have led community seminars at the International Congress on Palliative Care. Community education has a strong place in our history and in our future, but along with education our focus for the future is community engagement.
Without doubt, 2020 has been a year of great challenge but we look forward, with optimism, to 2021 as a year of great opportunity. Building on the lessons learned during this pandemic year, we are excited about expanding the Council membership and offering more programs in French, collaborating with community partners and offering a second edition of PROJECTION WEEK in the fall of 2021.
Our first PROJECTION WEEK, last October, was a bold community engagement initiative that saw Montrealers offer over 145 events in 7 days, creatively exploring major questions about life and death, from different points of view and disciplines - philosophical, medical, social, artistic and educational. This event was hugely successful – not just because of the number and range of events, but because it sparked meaningful conversations about what is possible when we are less afraid to talk openly about death, loss and grief.
Because death, loss and grief affect us all, we want YOU to be involved and have a voice in how care is given and how we can support each other in our families, our communities and our workplaces. We would love to hear your stories and ideas and for you to join us in some of our programs and plans for PROJECTION WEEK 2.
Palliative care is an amazing gift of care, love and support and one we all deserve. With your help, we can make this happen. To us, that is a hopeful “light at the end of the tunnel” in this pandemic.
Suzanne O'Brien John Sanford