The Vancouver Threshold Choir is a choir of women who, since 2009, have been bringing comfort and compassion through song to those at the thresholds of living and dying, in hospice, hospital or at home in the Greater Vancouver area. When invited, they come in groups of two to four singers to a bedside to offer soft, soothing, restful harmonies. The Choir honours all spiritual paths and has no religious affiliation. Their hope is, through gentle songs, to create moments of grace in difficult times. Their songs are simple messages of love, life and heart. The Choir’s singing is offered as a gift; with there being no charge for their services.
End of Life Expo 2017 Presenters
A prairie girl through and through, Deborah Magdee was born and raised in Winnipeg and embraces her Ukrainian and Polish heritage. For the past 20 years, she has held the position of school and support staff worker for the Vancouver School Board supporting students with special needs.
Deborah is a mother and foster parent who became a full-time caregiver at home when her mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Caring for her mother day-to-day became a loving, intimate experience and when she learned she could keep her mother at home for her funeral after she died, she sought further information to make it happen. This became a way to honour her mom, as did her ancestors on the prairies of Saskatchewan. Deborah and her family were so taken by this beautiful experience and loving act that they have now had open conversations on how each family member would like to be taken care of when their day comes.
Vancouver has been Deborah’s West Coast home for the past 23 years. She was heard on CBC Radio’s On the Coast show in July 2016 during their “DIY Funerals, Rite at Home” documentary series.
Dr. Ellen Wiebe is a clinical professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia. After 30 years of full-service family practice, she now restricts her practice to women’s health and assisted death. She is the medical director of Willow Women’s Clinic in Vancouver and provides medical and surgical abortions and contraception. She developed Hemlock AID to provide consultations for doctors and patients about aid in dying and provides assisted death. She has published widely on women’s health and is now researching the experience of assisted dying in Canada.
Pashta MaryMoon is a practising death midwife and “advance care planning” consultant with Journeying Beyond. She has been offering pan-death (before, during, after) support to death journeyers and their families for over 30 years. She is also one of the founders, and current executive director, of CINDEA (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives), which includes responding to a wide range of requests for support from DWENA (Deathcare—Wholistic, Ecological, and/or Natural Alternatives) practitioners and families across Canada; and working with other organizations and individuals to further public awareness about DWENA options, particularly home funerals. In B.C., Pashta offers a 1.5-day workshop on caring for our own dead at home (home funeral—deathcare, timeline and paperwork) called By My Own Heart and Hand. She is also involved with a range of organizations that address end-of-life issues.
Harold Rosen is a community interfaith educator with master’s degrees in education, religion and philosophy. He designs and teaches courses on world religions for community and university audiences, and assists with interfaith and multicultural projects. His aim is to facilitate broader understanding and cooperation, as well as to provide hope for humanity’s spiritual progress. His book, Founders of Faith: The Parallel Lives of God’s Messengers, on the teachings of Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and Bahá’u’lláh, has emerged from these courses. Sequels to this book are being prepared, addressing world history and the role of religion, on the theme of “Eye to the Ages: The Rise, Fall and Progressive Renewal of Civilization.”
Zahra Lalani is a nurse with over 15 years of experience in the cancer care system and with hospice care. Over the last few years she has shifted her focus from an exclusively curative perspective to palliative care. In her role as a nurse she supports patients and families with their physical, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual needs as they transition towards the end of life. Over the years, Zahra has had the privilege of walking with hundreds of people in their last weeks, days and minutes on this earth.
Zahra is also an End of Life Companion. She believes that despite the limitations and turbulence that a health condition may impose, we can create an environment for people to heal and feel whole as they journey towards their last days.
Imam Mohammad Shujaath Ali Nadwi is the Imam at Masjidul Haqq Mosque in Vancouver. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Sciences from the renowned Islamic University Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow, India, and a master’s degree in Islamic Jurisprudence from the Islamic Research Institute Al Mahadul Aali Al Islami in Hyderabad, India. Nominated in 2006 as an Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation, Imam Shujaath is currently a member of the Religious Board of the British Columbia Muslim Association, the Community Network of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the Muslim, Christian and Jewish Triologue Committee. He is a spiritual care provider to the sick and dying within the Muslim community of Metro Vancouver.
Rabbi Hannah Dresner, MFA, is spiritual leader of Or Shalom Synagogue on Vancouver’s East Side. She believes it is her calling to work toward a Judaism of head, heart and physical being, so that our religious lives address the breadth of our human needs. Rabbi Hannah comes to the rabbinate with hospital-based Clinical Pastoral Education (Chaplaincy education). Ordained as both a rabbi and spiritual director, Rabbi Hannah was recently named an Adjudicator of Jewish Law by the ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow, and a fellow in a clergy leadership incubator, identified as a “rabbinic agent of change.” Rabbi Hannah blogs monthly on the MyJewishLearning website.
Myoshin Kate McCandless is the co-guiding teacher of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver (MRZC). Now retired, she worked for over 10 years as a clinical counsellor, bereavement program coordinator and volunteer trainer for Burnaby Hospice Society and Mission Hospice Society. Recently, she has coordinated and presented in MRZC’s “Buddhist Perspectives on Death, Dying and Loss” series.
Firdosh Mehta is a founding member and past president of both the Zoroastrian Association of Alberta and the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America. He is a graduate professional mechanical/industrial engineer from India and Massachusetts, and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Firdosh has made presentations on various topics related to the Zoroastrian faith to schools, universities and worship centres in the U.S. and Canada, including representations at International Religious and Peace conferences in Barcelona, London, Pune and New Delhi, and the 2015 Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has received various community service awards, including The Vision Foundation Award 2011, India; and the Outstanding Zarathushti Award of FEZANA 2012.
Firdosh lives in New Westminster, B.C., and continues to volunteer for community and interfaith services. He is on the board of the Trust Foundation of the Zoroastrian Society of B.C.
Tammy Morin Nakashima was commissioned as a Notary Public in December 1995 and commenced her practice, based in Richmond’s historic Steveston district, in May 1996. On the board of directors of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia for the past six years, she has also served in the role of president.
The Society of Notaries Public comprises dedicated entrepreneurs and a Secretariat, making the Society a profession that continues to be well respected and recognized in our communities, province and around the world.
In addition to obtaining Certificates of Completion for Intensive Mediation and Seniors Advisor programs, Tammy has been trained in notary-related workshops on the themes of residential real estate, wills, adult guardianship, executorship, estate planning for blended families, and small business conveyancing.
Tammy has given numerous will seminars in community venues and for banks. She has also taught the Junior Achievement program, and served as a director and on the executive of various charitable organizations over the years, including the board of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. She has also been voted Best Notary in the readers' choice awards of two different Richmond publications.
A mother and grandmother, Tammy enjoys family activities and a game of golf now and again.
Anneke Rees has been involved in health care since 1990 and is a co-organizer/program designer of the Simon Fraser University End of Life Expo 2017, a co-founder of Dying Matters Canada and a facilitator of Death Cafes in the Vancouver area. She also offers consulting expertise to non-profits through her own consultancy. With an MA in leadership and training from Royal Roads University and a Certificate in Volunteer Management, Anneke has more than four decades of experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors, including eight years as CEO of a non-profit organization.
Tom Esakin is formally trained both as an interfaith spiritual director and in “Sacred Presence with the Dying.” He is an interfaith spiritual director with three Anglican parishes in Metro Vancouver. He offers psyche-spiritual supports through Reflective Presence—Consultants in Ministry, is a member of SDI-Spiritual Directors International, and designs and facilitates retreats and multifaith dialogues. He is a co-organizer/program designer of the Simon Fraser University End of Life Expo 2017, a co-founder of Dying Matters Canada and a facilitator of Death Cafes in the Vancouver area. Tom holds a master’s degree in sustainable development from Staffordshire University, U.K., and from SFU holds a minor in philosophy focused on ethics. He is experienced in university-level instruction, curriculum design and public speaking, including with foreign-trained professionals from over 40 countries and six continents.
Born in Alberta and living most of his life in Vancouver, Scott McFarlane has devoted almost all his life to providing services in the funeral industry. Well known for his meticulousness and perfectionism when it comes to the embalming trade, Scott is first and foremost a seasoned funeral director and embalmer. He has accumulated over 30 years of solid experience managing staff of many of Vancouver's highly reputable funeral homes and chapels including Armstrong’s and Kearney’s funeral homes.
Scott's simple and no-nonsense approach to providing affordable funeral services had not always been welcomed in the industry. He has felt that the funeral industry strayed too far from its original duties and responsibilities by placing sales above others.
Out of this dissatisfaction, he founded Amherst Cremation Care Company in 2009 (now known as Amherst Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc.) with the mission to provide simple, affordable and dignified funeral services. Gold winners of the Georgia Straight’s “Best of Vancouver” and the Westender’s “Best of the City” for many years running, Scott has proved that his and Amherst’s mission is well on the right track.
Glen Hodges is the manager of the City of Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. His experience and knowledge of cemetery operations is founded on more than 20 years' experience managing large municipal cemetery operations. In 2002, he began the planning and design work that led to the reopening of Mountain View Cemetery. Closed to the sale of space in 1986, the cemetery was partially sustained on a long-established practice of grave re-use that is now being recognized as “green burial.” This history and experience has uniquely positioned Glen as an authority on the technical aspects of green burial. Under his stewardship, Mountain View Cemetery has initiated several unique programs, events, landscapes and innovations that have reinvigorated this important civic space for Vancouver.
Mark Smith has worked as a Registered Nurse in the U.K., in the field of mental health and community care. This included active involvement, in a unique social work/nursing role, in the closure of a large residential hospital on the outskirts of Edinburgh. In Canada, Mark has worked in UBC's Learning Exchange, a community‑university engagement initiative in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside; this included innovative, asset‑based educational programs in which local volunteers from marginalized populations trained to be ESL and IT facilitators. He is currently program coordinator for SFU Lifelong Learning's Liberal Arts and 55+ Program, which offers a wide range of non‑credit liberal arts courses to thousands of older adult learners every year. Mark holds a BC Provincial Instructors Diploma, an MA from the University of Glasgow and an MEd from SFU. Mark is currently pursuing an EdD in educational practice, the focus of which is older adult learners exploring end-of-life issues.