Compassionate Community


What is a Compassionate Community?

  • Compassionate communities recognize that everyone experiences dying, death, and bereavement, and that people need support during these life phases.  
  • The Compassionate Communities movement is gaining ground because healthcare systems alone lack the capacity to address the social, psychological and spiritual aspects of loss, serious illness, bereavement, end of life care, and caregiver support.
  • Compassionate Communities embrace a public health approach to end-of-life and bereavement care in which such support is the responsibility of the community as a whole [e.g. people, organizations, unions, companies, institutions].
  • Compassionate Communities support their members who are dying and their family caregivers, and those who are bereaved.

Currently, Compassionate Communities exist in many countries including Canada, Spain, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and India. Canada is taking a leadership role in the Compassionate Communities movement in terms of research, education and the establishment of a number of compassionate communities (e.g., in Ontario and British Columbia). 

Why create a Compassionate Community at McGill?

Since the largest part of the McGill community (excepting alumni) are the students, who are for the most part young, you might wonder why we feel it is essential that a Compassionate Community is created at McGill. Here’s why:

  • Even students experience the dying, death, and loss of family members and friends. If they are away from home, they are likely away from their usual support system. Other students may have little experience with loss and may not know how to support them.
    • Students may wish to connect to a meaningful project within the McGill community.
  • Faculty and Staff are likely to be caring for someone at the end of life, or grieving, while working at the same time. Some of them will also be far from their usual support system.
    • Faculty and Staff may be looking for a way to be more engaged in the McGill community. They may want to support other employees and students but not know how.
  • Members of the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning are of an age where they are likely to be caregivers, bereaved, or supporting people who are.
    • Some may want to contribute their experience and time to creating a Compassionate Community at McGill.   



Members of the McGill community are empowered to better cope with issues around death, dying, grief bereavement, and caregiving and provide support for others living these life experiences.


How might the Council support the development and implementation of compassionate initiatives at McGill?

The Council is currently laying the groundwork for a number of initiatives to shift the McGill culture to one of greater awareness around end-of-life issues and the Compassionate Communities movement, and to mobilize the McGill community to better support its members in times of loss and change.


Initial strategies for contributing to a Compassionate Community at McGill 

  • Takes a leadership role in the community to create sustainable initiatives
  • Organizes or sponsors awareness workshops, events, campaigns to promote compassionate support
  • Develops and trains Compassionate Community champions and ambassadors and provides recognition awards
  • Supports programs and events such as volunteer training, art shows, workshops


If you are interested in joining the initiative, please contact:  frances.morris [at]




The Council is collaborating with different departments and organizations at McGill, such as the McGill Art Hive Initiative, the Schulich Library and The McGill Community for Life Long learning.

The Council welcomes suggestions, ideas and collaborative projects.

Upcoming Activities

-May 10 Compassion Day at the Art Hive (Education Bldg)


also check the Council's upcoming events page.



Public Health Palliative Care International:

Compassionate Cities Charter:

BC Centre for Palliative Care White Paper:


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