The Irene Thomas Hospice was ordered closed by B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix after the Delta Hospice Society refused to allow euthanasia. Photo from B.C. Catholic

Delta Hospice Society set to rise again

By 
  • April 13, 2022

In some corners of this country there are people for whom the fight over euthanasia will never end. They are in a minority but they are tough and courageous and determined.

One of those people is Angelina Ireland, president of the Delta Hospice Society. She and her allies steered the group to a stunning pro-life victory on a recent Saturday in April.

Some background: The society has existed for 30 years and 12 years ago it built a 10-bed hospice. The hospice was built with private funds. The land was leased from the Fraser Health Authority, which also helped fund the hospice as it was delivering a provincial medical service. Then, in 2016, the roof fell in. Euthanasia, or MAiD, was legalized. The then board was split on euthanasia but the pro-life side prevailed. That victory was moot: the health authority said, in essence: no euthanasia, no funding and, by the way, get off our land.

Today the hospice is run by the provincial authority and allows for euthanasia.

However, the Delta Hospice Society never went away. On a recent Saturday it voted in a pro-life board, easily defeating a pro-MAiD slate. It also altered its constitution to keep any future hospice they might build euthanasia free.

Thousands across the country voted on this. Just like me, they had taken out a membership so they could support the pro-life side.

While this victory took place for the Delta Hospice Society, it’s really a morality play for the rest of the country to learn from. Wherever there has been resistance to euthanasia a group pops up insisting that it be offered everywhere. The idea of a MAiD-free zone seems anathema to many Canadians. But, as Ireland pointed out, with 75 per cent of voters giving the society an overwhelming mandate to keep out euthanasia, she hopes that the pro-life side has a bright future.

Below is an edited version of my recent conversation with Ireland:

Charles Lewis: How did you come to be involved with the Delta Hospice Society?

Angelina Ireland: I came to it as a client during my cancer journey that began in 2013. I used their out-patient counselling services. When I regained my health, I wanted to give back to the organization that helped me in those difficult times. I view palliative care as I did then from the perspective of a patient and not as an administrator. Palliative care provides the resources — physical, psychological and spiritual — to live well until our natural end. I find peace in knowing that there are those around me who are invested in that protection.

Q: How important is this to you as a devout Catholic? Some might argue that you could have euthanasia for those who wanted it.

A: There is nothing so horrible as knowing the person next to you is going to be killed… it’s a torture. You know that in most cases their choice is driven by the idea they don’t want to be a burden, they are lonely, they don’t want to feel helpless and useless. As a country we have failed our brothers and sisters because we did not give them the care they needed and now they choose to die. We are all complicit in that abandonment. Palliative care endeavours to give every person the dignity and respect they deserve, the time to heal wounds, reconcile and prepare for a natural death. It ensures the sacred gift of life is cherished.

Q: How did you feel after you won on April 2? 

A: I felt that we had heard the will of the members. Three-quarters of our membership want to affirm that we are a palliative-care organization that refuses to consider MAiD as part of our practices. It is a great victory for pro-life nation.

Q: What comes now?

A:  We believe we have been given a mandate by our members to pursue our vision of hospice sanctuary… free from euthanasia. We will need to find a piece of land. It will be a private project and we want little to do with governments. The federal government put aside billions in 2017 to improved and expand palliative care. They’ve only spent a fraction on studies. So perhaps we could get a grant but there would have to be no strings attached.

Q: Given MAiD was so readily available, including the hospital that was a short walk from the hospice, what reasons were you told that you must provide euthanasia?

A: We were told it was an egregious, human rights violation to make people move for services not offered in one facility. Our refusal to kill our patients brought the full weight of the provincial and municipal government authority against us. They expropriated our assets without compensation and relegated us to pariah status.

True believers in MAiD organized and encouraged our banishment. Why?  In my opinion, it’s just another example of how the fabric of our entire society is being ripped apart. A new age of Enlightenment is upon us. Apparently, human beings can now take the place of God. There is no tolerance for “wrong think” that hinders this progressive agenda. They will do whatever they have to do to suppress individual freedom in favour of the state.

Q: How do you ensure that a pro-MAiD group doesn’t get in the way again?

A: We changed our constitution and bylaws to define palliative care as not including hastening death. We have prohibited our organization from participating in any activities that include assisted suicide and euthanasia of any kind. We are a private organization. We are not a government agency. We should be allowed, as private citizens, to come together to provide a service that people want and choose. There is certainly nothing wrong with providing care to people. One would expect the government and taxpayers would applaud such a venture rather than destroy it.

Q: Finally, starting in March 2023, the mentally ill will be able choose euthanasia. This comes as the world is in great turmoil and great stress. What does this new category say about our leaders?

A: The expansion of MAiD to the mentally ill is terrifying and could not come at a worse time. We’ve had more than two years of lockdowns, social isolation, masks and fear mongering. We are now living with hyped up fear of climate crisis, war in Ukraine and runaway inflation. So who isn’t feeling some mental strain? We, the people, put our trust in our leaders to use creativity and innovation to get us out of a crisis and plan a bright future… not to find a way to kill more people. This expansion of MAiD just embraces nihilism. What we really need is a plan to fight for the sacredness of life.

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