The Victoria Chapter of Dying with Dignity Canada (DWDC) was formed in December 2015 by volunteers Ellen Agger and Jeffrey Brooks. The Chapter, like other volunteer-based Chapters across the country, is an integral part of DWDC’s organization in supporting its vision and values, and is a way for those who support DWDC to bring awareness of medical assistance in dying and end-of-life choice to their own communities.
The Victoria Chapter serves the Greater Victoria region, comprised of 13 municipalities and an estimated population of 408,833 people. For services delivered remotely, such as virtual witnessing and virtual presentations, the Chapter serves Vancouver Island.
The Victoria Chapter works to ensure fair access to assisted dying, a legal right for all Canadians who qualify under federal law. Supported by a strong core of volunteers, we focus on providing independent witnesses and education on end-of-life choices.
> Independent Witnessing
Canadian law states that all patients requesting medical assistance in dying must put their request in writing and that their formal request must be signed by one independent witness.
The Victoria Chapter of DWDC was a leader in helping develop the national Independent Witness Program; it continues to provide trained volunteers to people who need their formal request for an assisted death witnessed but are unable to find their own witness.
Because of COVID restrictions, most witnessing is done virtually; in exceptional circumstances and under proper safeguards, witnesses have continued to attend in person.
> Community Education
Since medical assistance in dying became legal in 2016, citizens on Vancouver Island have been one of the most frequent users of the legislation. DWDC’s Victoria Chapter gives presentations across South Island, explaining medical assistance in dying, how the federal legislation is implemented in British Columbia and sharing personal experiences from volunteers whose family members have accessed MAID.
COVID-19 forced us to curtail all community education in March 2020, but in the interim, we have been working on two new presentations which we will offer as webinars on Zoom. One presentation covers how the federal legislation is implemented in British Columbia, including when the legislation applies to citizens. The other presentation features a volunteer whose family member used MAID. Both presentations address changes with the new legislation.
For further information on these free presentations, email [email protected].
- Whether you are suffering physically or mentally, there are ways to get help. Learn more about the local resources and support services available in British Columbia.
- [email protected] (General information/education inquires)
- [email protected] (Independent Witnessing)
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Lynne Van Luven