Venerable Yin Kit has been a Buddhist nun since 1992, ordained under Venerable Sing Yat in Hong Kong. Venerable Yin Kit has many roles as the spiritual leader of Po Lam. She is involved in leading numerous workshops teaching hospice care and hospital spiritual care in Hong Kong and in Canada. The Venerable is also the advisor to the Hong Kong SPGA Hospice program. In 2005, Venerable Yin Kit established the Compassionate Centre for Health, a service for the Chinese-speaking community in the Greater-Vancouver area. This group has grown to over fifty active volunteers who visit senior homes and palliative care units at several sites. The Venerable has spent decades in hospitals, hospices, and homes, assisting people through their death. Through these experiences, her understanding of how to compassionately and wisely care for those dying and their families has changed as a result of constantly reflecting on what she experiences and what she learns as a Buddhist nun living in the West in the 21st century.
Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan is Director of Inter-Religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology. As Rabbi of Or Shalom Synagogue (2005-2014), she accompanied people spiritually at all stages of the lifecycle. As Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte (1989-2004), she helped students use philosophy to understand their life narratives. Laura, an accomplished scholar as well as spiritual teacher, holds a B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University, a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Education from Claremont Graduate University, Rabbinic Ordination from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal seminary, and a Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction from the Vancouver School of Theology. Her books include Philosophy and Everyday Life (Seven Bridges Press, 2002), and Family Pictures: A Philosopher Explores the Familiar (Open Court Press, 1998). She blogs at www.sophiastreet.com.
Dr. Jeff Berkshire, DVM, MSc, BSc, is originally from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. He completed his Bachelors of Science at Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Following completion his Masters of Science in Animal Science at the University of British Columbia, he worked at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre for two years before enrolling at the Atlantic Veterinary College where he graduated in 2005. Dr. Berkshire has practiced small animal medicine and surgery for over 11 years. He is currently the owner of “Lifting Stars Pet Homecare,” a mobile veterinary service for companion animals offering compassionate end-of-life services in the comfort of home. In addition, Dr. Berkshire works as Locum Veterinarian at Granville Island Veterinary Hospital and maintains a seasonal position as Seminar Provider with Zoetis. Dr. Berkshire is a member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia, the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care.
Andrew Sixsmith was appointed Professor and Director of the Gerontology Research Centre at SFU in September 2007. He is also Deputy Director of the SFU Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences (IRMACS) Centre and President of the International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG) for 2014–2016. Dr. Sixsmith has been a member of the British Society of Gerontology Executive Committee and has been UK representative on the EU's COST-A5 Committee on Ageing and Technology. Since 2000 he has developed research and teaching links with 26 universities worldwide and has actively collaborated with over 30 major commercial and government organisations.
Valorie Crooks is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University. She is a health geographer by training and specializes in health services research. She currently holds a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies. For over a decade she has been involved in research on palliative care. This research has primarily examined informal caregiving and location modelling for palliative care service siting.
Robert Beringer has a Master’s Degree in Gerontology from Simon Fraser University. The research for his M.A. degree was focused on gerontechnology and aging-in-place. Since completing this degree he has worked as a researcher and consultant through his own company Vibrant Living and Lifestyle Systems INC. He is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary doctorate in social sciences at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC. His doctoral research will focus on LGBTQ aging in non-metropolitan (rural and small town) settings. He participated in the Fostering End-of-Life Conversations, Community and Care among LGBT Older Adults project and his role was concerned with the development of the British Columbia End-of-Life Resource Inventory, promoting the Vancouver LGBT Town Hall Meeting, and overseeing the development of the LGBT End-of-Life Conversations website.
Larry Green is currently an Adjunct Professor at City University Canada in Vancouver where he teaches in the Counselling Psychology Graduate Program. He received a Ph.D. from SFU in the Philosophy of Education Program. His dissertation focused on the relationship between the reflective mind and the pre-reflective self. Additionally, he has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 44 years where he assists his clients to bring their hearts and minds together.
Meghan Grant obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts and Certificate in Religious Studies at SFU. She is currently in her final semester of the Master’s program in the Department of Humanities. Her graduate work focuses on food and religion, and how food practices like vegetarianism, veganism, and the raw movement are by nature, religious. Much of her research focuses on the work of Dr. Charles Taylor, whose "A Secular Age" has been instrumental to her graduate career. Her other research interests include both Occidental and Eastern religions, New Age religion and the Occult, secularity, food ecology, green religion and the environment, the culture and history of food, the treatment of animals, and the systemic use of language concerning agri-commercial activities.
Morgan Young has an interdisciplinary background, mostly in music, anthropology, and philosophy. She is currently an MA Student in the Department of Humanities at SFU. She is interested in the Frankfurt School and related theorists on art and critical aesthetics. In particular, she is interested in the utopian dimension of the Frankfurt School, and the Romantic critique of capitalism. She is exploring the idea of art as transformative experience and as site of resistance. Her thesis is focused on developing a critical theory of fantasy as a part of a broader category of theory for radical speculative fiction. Morgan also enjoys singing, writing, and cuddles with her cats.
Gayle Thom is an MA student in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SFU, currently focusing on the origins and understanding of honour and the virtues under the guidance and teaching of Dr. Stephen Duguid. Gayle works as part of the senior management team at Horizon Distributors, an organic and natural food distributor, as Director of Procurement & Marketing, where she oversees procurement, pricing, supplier relations, marketing, brand management and publishing. Her interest in honour is inspired by her active engagement in the training and traditions of Okinawan Shotokan karate which, through dedication to practice and commitment to ritual, has deepened her compassion for all living beings and further enhanced her reverence for the natural world.
Margaret Easton has MA’s in Liberal Studies and Gerontology from SFU and is currently a PhD student in Graduate Liberal Studies. Her doctoral research hopes to advance knowledge of the conditions essential to human flourishing in “societies of longer lives” and focuses on understanding self and personhood in the aging process. Margaret recently taught "Adult Development & Aging" at the University of Calgary and will be teaching "The History of Suicide and Euthanasia" in the Liberal Arts/55+ Program in 2017. She is also the coordinator for the SFU Shadbolt Graduate Liberal Studies Big Ideas Seminar Series, a program that is offered in local community centers and facilitated by GLS students.