For Nino Sekopet, returning to Dying With Dignity Canada “feels like coming home.”
The psychotherapist, who first joined DWDC in 2012 as our Personal Support Program manager, rejoined our team in July after serving in a similar role at End of Life Planning Canada (ELPC), an independent charity that was established last year.
Just as before, Nino continues to serve as a calming, non-judgmental voice on the phone, helping Canadians navigate the ins and outs of applying for an assisted death, while also supporting those individuals dealing with the emotional fallout of being denied their right to final relief.
“We are thrilled to have Nino back on staff, as he brings with him more than 15 years of experience as a psychotherapist, including four years in the DWDC fold,” said DWDC CEO Shanaaz Gokool. “At DWDC, we are steadfast in our commitment to our supporters, especially those who have been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness and want the choice of a peaceful death. Nino's return will provide much-needed support and guidance for those individuals.”
DWDC's returning Personal Support Program manager Nino Sekopet.
In the wake of the nationwide legalization of medical assistance in dying (MAID), Nino's role has also been expanded to reflect our new normal. His duties will now include building our support programming for physicians who want to offer assisted dying and training DWDC volunteers who are looking to provide personal support to individuals in their communities.
In the past, offering this kind of training would have been inconceivable for DWDC. “Before, we didn’t [train volunteers] because we would have been operating in slightly grey territory,” Sekopet said. “Now, the line between what is legal and what is illegal is much clearer, so there’s no danger of volunteers stepping into a grey zone.”
Nino’s return to DWDC comes as Canadians are becoming more familiar with the services he provides. In April, his pioneering work was featured in an in-depth profile in Maclean’s magazine. The heightened exposure led to his invitation to speak in front of the MPs on the House of Commons’ Committee on Justice and Human Rights as they mulled over possible amendments to Bill C-14.
He said the feedback to the article has been overwhelmingly positive — likely a product of the ongoing shift in the public’s attitudes toward death and dying.
“I do feel like [the discussion around] death and dying is becoming more mainstream, but there is still tons of work to do in order for us really talk about death and dying as something very normal.”
For more information on DWDC’s Personal Support Program, go to Dyingwithdignity.ca/get_personal_support.