[Event Announcement] Conference: The End of Life: Dying, Suicide, Death at Institute for the Humanities, SFU (Nov.2-3, 2016)

Questions regarding the end of life––about dying, suicide, and death––have been with humanity from ancient times. Many thinkers have wrestled with the realities of suffering and mortality, and how we as humans, individually and collectively, can be the most humane, compassionate, and just in face of such certainties. Only one thing appears sure, and this is that people draw upon different resources and perspectives when facing the end of life.

This conference is intended to provide space for pondering the complex and agonizing decisions regarding the end of life. Space for such conversations is especially needed given the 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada declaring that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying infringes upon section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the introduction of Bill C-14, which has resulted in debate about who, when, and in what circumstances an individual may make such a decision.

Speakers include academics, graduate students, and practitioners who will speak from their own particular perspectives: legal, ethical, medical, and spiritual or religious. Insights from literature and art, some of humanity’s most treasured resources, will also be drawn upon.


Wednesday, November 2, 6:00PM–8:00PM (doors open at 5:30PM), room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre
– Keynote by Dr. Eike-Henner Kluge, “Reflections on Dying”

Thursday, November 3, 9:00AM–4:30PM, room 1700, SFU Harbour Centre
– Registration (coffee/tea and snacks), 9:00AM, in front of room

Praxis Panel, 9:30AM–11:30AM, Moderator: Hilda Fernandez
Venerable Yin Kit Sik, “The Role of Mindfulness in End-of-Life Care”
– Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, “Turning Responsibly Towards Death: A Jewish Pastoral Perspective”
– Dr. Jeffrey Berkshire, “Saying Goodbye to Your Best Friend: A Veterinarian’s Perspective on End-of-Life Care and Humane Euthanasia”

Academia Panel, 11:30AM–1:30PM, Samir Gandesha
– Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, “AGE-WELL: Canada’s Network on Ageing and Technology”
– Dr. Valorie A. Crooks, “Resilience in the Practice of Informal Caregiving: A Socio-environmental Exploration”
– Robert Beringer, “Dignity, End-of-Life, and Concerns in the LGBTQ Community”
– Dr. Larry Green, “Intimations of Mortality: Previews of the End”

Lunch (independent), 1:30PM–2:30PM

Literature Panel, 2:30PM–4:30PM, Stephen Duguid
Meghan Grant, “Expressing the Individual’s Right to Die: Bill C-14 within Charles Taylor’s Modern Moral Order”
Morgan Young, “Death as Villain: The Quest for Immortality in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time””
– Gayle Thom, “Tolstoy’s Gerasim in “The Death of Ivan Ilyich””
– Margaret Easton, “What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today: “Women of Trachis” and Bill C-14″


This talk is about death and dying. Not about dying unexpectedly or by accident, but about dying as an event that in principle is within our control: as an event of which we can claim ownership because it is our final act as human beings and as persons. I am going to suggest that to institutionalize dying—to turn it into a purely medical phenomenon that has no connection with how we have lived our lives, or to shape it according to laws that are reflective of a traditional morality that is out of step with our competent values—or, what is even worse, to be denied a death that is in keeping with our competently held values and forced to live where every breath is a reminder that our values have been measured and found wanting—is to alienate us from what grounds us as human beings and as persons. If that happens, our death will be the end of our journey, but we will not own it; and our life, if such should be forced on us, will not be genuine but a forced game. This talk is about dying as persons, and about what that means.

Eike-Henner W. Kluge—B.A.(Calgary), A.M., Ph.D. (Mich.)—taught at various universities in the US and Canada before coming to the University of Victoria. In 1989, he was asked by the Canadian Medical Association to establish the Department of Ethics and Legal Affairs, and was its first Director. He was the first expert witness in medical ethics recognized by Canadian courts, and has acted in that capacity in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. He has been a consultant to Health Canada, various provincial Ministries of Health and Health Regions, as well as to the Office of the B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner, and has presented invited testimony to Royal Commissions and Parliamentary Committees. He has written three books and numerous articles on assisted suicide and deliberate death, and was the ethics consultant for Sue Rodriguez in her challenge of sec. 241 (b) of the Criminal Code (prohibition of assisted suicide) which, although it failed, ultimately led to the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) which struck down that section and led to the 2016 legalization of physician assisted death. From 2004 to 2010 he was the Canadian Bioethics Society’s delegate to the Canadian Council on Animal Care. He is a member of WG4 (Security in Health Information Systems) of the International Medical Informatics Association, was the author of its Code of Ethics (translated into 9 languages) and wrote the accompanying Handbook of Ethics for Health Informatics Professionals. In 2005 he received the Award for Research Excellence of the UVic Faculty of Humanities, and in 2007 he was awarded the Abbyann Lynch Medal in Bioethics by the Royal Society of Canada.

Location: rooms 7000 (Keynote) & 1700 (Panels), SFU Harbour Centre. Both the building and rooms (7000 via elevators) are wheelchair accessible.

Co-sponsored by SFU’s J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities, Institute for the Humanities, Department of Humanities, Graduate Liberal Studies, Department of Gerontology, & the Gerontology Research Centre.

Event is FREE and open to the public. Registration is required

For detailed bios and abstracts of panelists, click here.


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