Peter and Hayden: Get to know the newest members of DWDC’s Board of Directors
News & Updates | July 28, 2023 | Dying With Dignity Canada
Dying With Dignity Canada is governed by a diverse group of people who volunteer to participate on our Board of Directors. At our recent AGM, both Peter Godor, NP, and Dr. Hayden Rubensohn were elected to the board. We ask them to share a little bit about themselves and their motivations to give their time to our organization.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what expertise you bring to the Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) Board of Directors?
Peter: My contribution to the board will be mainly to bring clinical experience. This clinical experience is two-pronged, as I have spent three decades in the critical care environment (ICU and aeromedical transport) and for the last seven years I have been a very active MAID assessor and provider. Experience from the critical care environment will be useful for having seen suffering at all points of the illness trajectory. My MAID related work will be invaluable for having a deep understanding of patients’ and their families’ experience with suffering, options, decision-making process and relief that approval and eventual ending of life can bring.
Hayden: I am a palliative care and internal medicine physician working in and around Calgary. I am also involved with MAID assessments and provisions in the communities within which I work. It’s this clinical perspective that I will bring to the DWDC Board of Directors. Outside of that, I am a husband, and father of two busy little boys. My work reminds me how precious life is, and to live to its fullest while I have that opportunity.
What motivated you to get involved with Dying With Dignity Canada and our mission?
Peter: Dying With Dignity Canada is the most respected advocacy organization in Canada both for patients and their families, but also for promoting change in law, policies and public perception. As I am passionate about the advancement of MAID in Canada, it was natural that I would be interested to be involved and to contribute.
Hayden: I was noticing more and more in my personal and professional life that advocating for choice in the dying process was igniting my passion and inspiring me. I wanted to be involved with a talented group of people and an organization that aligned with my beliefs, so that I could put those inspirations into something that would result in benefit outside of myself and my immediate patients. I am thrilled to be in a position to help advocate for choice and autonomy around death and dying.
What change do you hope to see in the near future in regard to end-of-life rights?
Peter: My approach to MAID and end-of-life care is a ‘centrist,’ ‘thoughtful,’ and ‘careful’ way of advocating. It is my hope that the MAID movement advances and evolves at a steady but slow pace to allow for public comfort and acceptance. The last seven years have brought rapid changes and advancements; my hope is that we will build on those changes to solidify and normalize MAID as an option for patients and their families. Specifically, I would like to see the end of organizations opting out for assessments and provision on their sites, and with that the end of forced transfers. A more remote goal is to have the advance requests for MAID topic addressed in a way that remains safe and accessible for all appropriate individuals.
Hayden: I feel very strongly that people with mental disorders as their sole underlying medical condition should be able to access MAID. I did two years of training in psychiatry before completing internal medicine, and I witnessed great suffering amongst that population. I have been truly disheartened since 2016 that people with mental illness have not been able to access the same compassionate end-of-life care that those with physical illnesses have. It was hard to fathom that Bill C-39 was going to delay the implementation of MAID for mental disorders, and so I’d really like to see the sunset clause on mental disorders truly expire in 2024.
Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
Peter: I enjoy motorcycle adventure-touring all over the world, which I partake in frequently, in a responsible and safe way. These trips allow me to refresh, regroup and place my life in perspective to allow me to remain engaged in projects and activities that I find meaningful in my work life.
Hayden: I really love scuba diving and have been fortunate enough to do a number of scuba diving trips in my life. I have logged over 100 dives and have been as deep as 142 feet under water. There is something about being under the water that is incredibly relaxing and is an active form of meditation for me.
Anything else you would like to share about your decision to volunteer with our organization?
Hayden: I feel that I am starting my volunteer work with DWDC at a time when so many incredible accomplishments have been made by the leaders who came before me. I feel deeply honoured to pick up at this point and continue their work. I feel immense gratitude to the trailblazers who fought for the rights we now have as Canadians, and I hope I can contribute in some small way to ensuring those rights are expanded over the coming years.