Dying With Dignity Canada’s longevity and success is due in large part to the many volunteers who work on the local and at the regional level. We have Chapters across the country powered by people passionate about end-of-life choice.
Throughout the year, we will be highlighting the stories and contributions of DWDC’s volunteers, and what motivates them to give of their time to our organization. This is June’s story.
June started volunteering for the Calgary Chapter of DWDC in 2013. Her volunteerism with DWDC is a natural fit with her 40-year career as a Clinical Social Worker, providing mental health and community counselling and therapy. With DWDC, she continues to use her skills in community organization and public education and she relishes the social activism and connection with people. Her contacts in the Alberta health-care field have been invaluable for widening the reach of the Calgary Chapter.
In 2014, she created and led a book study group related to end-of-life issues. Two short years later, she assumed the role of Co-Chair of the Chapter. She is clearly not averse to jumping into the deep end!
One of her most important activities as a volunteer for DWDC has been to make presentations on MAID and end-of-life issues. Before COVID, she gave about 6 of these presentations per year! After in-person meetings became impossible due to the pandemic, she adjusted to a digital platform despite being a reluctant techie (as she herself would admit). To date, she has done two interview-format presentations on Zoom and makes it look like she’s been doing them all her life.
June has always been interested in end-of-life issues and in fact, did her Master’s thesis on issues of aging. That was in 1969 and even then, she felt that medical interventions frequently favoured quantity of life over quality. She is a passionate supporter of conscious aging and conscious dying and provides a lived example of how to live the last third of our life with curiosity and openness.
She is an out-of-the-box thinker, brimming with ideas. Her fellow volunteers find it difficult to keep up and wonder where she finds the time to do all that she does! She admits that one of the hardest parts of volunteering with DWDC is that she can’t do everything she would like to when there is so much left to do.
One of June’s most treasured experiences as a DWDC volunteer was to be present at the provision of MAID to a fellow DWDC member who had no family. She felt honoured to be one of four people invited to this important life transition and saw for herself what a gift a MAID death could be.
A fun fact about June is that she is an enthusiastic member of a group called “Hags and Crones” that meets monthly to discuss social issues. She loves to sing, dabbles in painting, reads voraciously and is a firm believer that living with one’s mortality in mind only makes life more vital.