"I don’t think I’m content any more with just accomplishing this for people like Don. I realize that there are people who suffer in other ways."  - Maureen Taylor

Maureen taylor, Toronto

Maureen Taylor is a physician assistant in infectious diseases, medical journalist, and advocate for the right to die with dignity. She was appointed Co-chair of the Ontario Provincial Advisory Panel on Physician-Assisted Dying. In this capacity, she canvassed various stakeholders – official associations, medical personnel and the general public – about where they stood on the issue before panel deliberations began. She is the widow of Dr. Donald Low, former infectious disease specialist and advocate for medical assisted dying, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2013. Taylor took up her late husband’s cause – the fight for the right to die with dignity.


Dr. Louis Roy, Quebec city

Trained as a family physician at Sherbrooke University, Louis Roy has dedicated his work over the last 20 years to the development of palliative care in Quebec City and in the province of Quebec. He chaired the Quebec Palliative Care Association from 2001 to 2006 and was the Quebec representative to the Canadian Palliative Association Board for 10 years. He co-chaired the ministerial committee for the implementation of physician-assisted dying (PAD) in 2015 with Brigitte Laflamme. He is also the Head of the CHU de Québec-Université Laval.

“My philosophy, my thinking, changed progressively. One day I told myself “Who am I to decide that you have to live up to the end of that final phase?” - Dr. Louis Roy

“My philosophy, my thinking, changed progressively. One day I told myself “Who am I to decide that you have to live up to the end of that final phase?” - Dr. Louis Roy


“I’ve made my decision. I am at my limit… I don’t want to live in the illusion that it will get better. That’s a big mistake." – Danielle Lacroix

“I’ve made my decision. I am at my limit… I don’t want to live in the illusion that it will get better. That’s a big mistake." – Danielle Lacroix

DaniellE LACROIX, Quebec CITY

Danielle Lacroix is a 61-year-old mother of two.  After battling cancer for more than a decade, she was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and told she has three months, possibly four, left to live. She is under the care of Dr. Louis Roy, a palliative doctor who also provides medical assistance in dying (MAID) to his patients. She is certain she wants assisted dying in the final stages of her illness, and has the support of her husband and sons.


“I’m at the stage where I spend most of my day in this chair being fed by tube and protecting what’s left of my breathing. I will use my exemption when I am no longer able to communicate. This is not a shameful thing. I want other people to know that they can do this too.”  - John Tuckwell

“I’m at the stage where I spend most of my day in this chair being fed by tube and protecting what’s left of my breathing. I will use my exemption when I am no longer able to communicate. This is not a shameful thing. I want other people to know that they can do this too.”  - John Tuckwell

John tuckwell, Edmonton

John has been suffering from ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease since 2012. Previously an active person, his physical decline has been difficult for his family to watch. He plans on a doctor-assisted death when his quality of life has deteriorated to a state where just coping with the disease takes up the bulk of his day and he no longer enjoys life. When that will be is difficult to pin down. John still manages to live on his own with the help of his family, and a supportive home-care team. His ALS doctor Wendy Johnston respects his desire for a physician-assisted death (PAD), but feels she can’t personally offer it.


“I worry that if I were to practice assisted death, it would become something I offer as a solution. And I think I can’t do that - I can’t see that as a solution. I always have to offer everything short of that.”  - Dr. Wendy Johnston.

“I worry that if I were to practice assisted death, it would become something I offer as a solution. And I think I can’t do that - I can’t see that as a solution. I always have to offer everything short of that.”  - Dr. Wendy Johnston.

Dr. Wendy Johnston, EDMONTON

Dr. Wendy Johnston is a Professor of Neurology, and Medical Director at the University of Alberta’s ALS Clinic. While at Oregon health Sciences University (1992-2000) she established the first ALS clinic in Oregon and conducted a study on the attitudes of ALS patients and their caregivers toward assisted suicide; the study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In 2000, Dr. Johnston moved to Edmonton where she re-established the ALS Clinic at University of Alberta, now an interdisciplinary clinic and research program.


AMY DE SCHUTTER, BELGIUM

Amy is a 29-year-old professional woman who has been losing her battle with mental illness for more than half her life. After six diagnoses and years of treatment, nothing has relieved her psychological pain. She often tries to relieve her suffering through self-harm; cutting. She has attempted suicide more than 10 times. Amy’s remissions are short and make her relapses even more difficult to navigate. She tells her psychiatrist she has lost the will to fight. She wants Dr. Thienpont to help end her life.

Amy 3.jpg

"One of the most difficult things in Euthanasia is that we have to deal in subjective terms. When is it unbearable? In psychiatry, we can go on and on …because we can always try something else.” - Dr. Lieve Thienpont

"One of the most difficult things in Euthanasia is that we have to deal in subjective terms. When is it unbearable? In psychiatry, we can go on and on …because we can always try something else.” - Dr. Lieve Thienpont

DR. LIEVE THIENPONT, BELGIUM

Dr. Lieve Thienpont is a psychiatrist at University Hospital Brussels in Belgium, who specializes in assessing euthanasia requests. She is a founding member of Ulteam, a clinic for patients who have questions about end of life, and the author of Libera Me, a book about euthanasia and psychological suffering. Dr. Thienpont is handling Amy’s euthanasia request. Under Belgian law Amy needs the permission of three doctors: a referring doctor, a psychiatrist, and one other doctor. Amy has the approval of her family doctor, who has agreed to carry out her request, if she receives the two other necessary approvals. Dr. Thienpont understands Amy’s desire but wants her to take more time before making the final decision.


JACK BROWN, MERRICKVILLE

64-year old Jack has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Doctors suspect he carries the same gene that caused his mother’s early demise. Jack and his wife Riemke are learning that his situation is the one that confounds even the most ardent supporters of physician-assisted death. Jack and Riemke are searching for a way out, one that will allow Jack to avoid the indignities of his disease, but Canada’s Supreme Court ruling does not apply to people suffering from dementia. If the right to die is to be granted to dementia patients, it will have to come from legislators.

“Makes me sick, thinking about it, just laying there dying.” – Jack Brown

“Makes me sick, thinking about it, just laying there dying.” – Jack Brown


“I get calls from people that are terminally ill or have debilitating and progressive diseases and they want to know what can we do. Control is really a big thing in end of life territory.” – Nino Sekopet

“I get calls from people that are terminally ill or have debilitating and progressive diseases and they want to know what can we do. Control is really a big thing in end of life territory.” – Nino Sekopet

NINO SEKOPET, TORONTO

Nino Sekopet is a psychotherapist with Dying With Dignity and end of life counsellor to Jack and his wife, Riemke. Nino is committed to helping them navigate their narrowing options as Jack's disease progresses. As Bill C-14 moves through parliament and advocacy group's debate whether advance directives should be included in the law, Nino lays out the choices that lie ahead on this heartbreaking journey.


SHANAAZ GOKOOL, TORONTO

Shanaaz Gokool is the CEO of Dying with Dignity, a national organization committed to improving quality of dying, expanding end-of-life choices and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering. In early 2016 she launched DWD’s advocacy campaign to include the right to advance consent for assisted dying in Bill C-14.  This would allow person's with a diagnosis of dementia to make an advance request for assisted death while they are still competent, that could be carried out when he or she is no longer competent. Shanaaz holds undergraduate degrees in political science and human rights and equity studies. She also has a certificate in volunteer management and fundraising. She is currently finishing her MA in international relations.

"The concern about dementia is so great that not trying to advocate for advance consent would be a disservice to thousands of Canadians. And it’s the most critical time – our window of opportunity.” - Shanaaz Gokool

"The concern about dementia is so great that not trying to advocate for advance consent would be a disservice to thousands of Canadians. And it’s the most critical time – our window of opportunity.” - Shanaaz Gokool