In the fall of 2020 we launched a new initiative. These Conversations invite the public to take part in a discussion between a Compassionate Ottawa volunteer and a recognized leader on the subject of compassion. Sometimes it is about offering and receiving compassion in our personal lives, sometimes about what it means to be part of a compassionate community, and sometimes it is a call to action. So far, the conversations have involved leaders from Ottawa, across the country and the UK, and our audiences come from as far away as Australia and India.

End of Life Care is Everyone’s Responsibility (October, 2020)

This virtual event featured a conversation between Dr. Allan Kellehear and Dr. Mary Lou Kelley. Their conversation included the reasons why end-of-life care is everyone’s responsibility, the use of language in compassionate communities, what we have learned from the pandemic, and more.

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Compassion and Action: How Ottawa’s Front-line Workers are Dealing with Dying, Death, Loss & Grief (November, 2020)

Hosted by Jack McCarthy, former Executive Director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre and current Vice-Chair of Compassionate Ottawa, this virtual event featured a conversation with Wendy Muckle and Anne Marie Hopkins of Ottawa Inner City Health. They talked about how the pandemic and the opioid crisis are having a devastating impact on Ottawa’s most vulnerable residents and how front-line workers are dealing with the ensuing dying, death, loss and grief. Are the necessary social and health supports in place to bring compassion to the most vulnerable among us?

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Health, Social Services and the Community Working Together: Better Outcomes for All (January, 2021)

This virtual event featured a conversation between Dr. Julian Abel, physician and Director of Compassionate Communities UK, and Dr. Nick Busing, retired family physician and Compassionate Ottawa Board member. Together they explored a model of care that demonstrates the essential role of the community in improving the health of its residents in partnership with health care providers. The conversation described how working together helps build compassionate communities, and also included findings from studies that highlight the benefits of compassionate communities.
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Illness, Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Hope and Healing (March, 2021)

In this conversation, Lorraine M. Wright talked with Marion Rattray about practical and thoughtful ways that we can engage with each other when neighbours, friends, or patients are experiencing serious illness or loss in their lives, or are caring for a family member. Lorraine drew on her own life experiences, told stories, included humour and offered her perspective from her experience as a leader in the field of family nursing, as an academic with the University of Calgary, and as an author.

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Palliative Care and Grief during the Pandemic (April, 2021) In French Only

In this conversation, Johanne de Montigny talked with Jean-Pierre Soublière about the impact of grief and how the losses caused by the pandemic have contributed to it. They also discussed palliative care, including what it is, when it comes into a person’s life, and how someone with a life-limiting illness can move towards acceptance. Johanne drew on her thirty years of professional experience with the McGill University Health Centre and its palliative care network, as well as her university teaching on the relational phenomena surrounding death and grief.

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Strength and Compassion: Footsteps on the Path of Indigenous Ways of Living with Dying and Death (June, 2021)

In honor of National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada on June 21, 2021, Compassionate Ottawa was honored to host this month’s Conversations with Leaders with two Indigenous Elders. For many Indigenous peoples, dying and death are a transition rather than a finite “end-of-life”. With one foot in the living world and one in the spiritual world, the ideology of morbidity is not present, yet the approaches to it vary significantly from one community to another. There is a constant negotiation for life through ceremony which involves an ongoing relationship with ancestors.

In this virtual event, Erica Claus, Secretary of the Compassionate Ottawa Board of Directors, had a conversation with two Indigenous leaders, Elder Stephen Augustine and Elder Annie Smith St-Georges, who shared their ways to inspire and inform us. Together, we discovered how traditional, thriving and compassionate Indigenous communities support one another. We also learned how some Indigenous communities handle the last days’ transition to the spirit world, and then how to let the departed go, through emotions and memories.

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Trust in Compassionate Communities (October, 2021)

This conversation featured The Right Honourable David Johnston, Canada’s 28th governor general, and Mr. Lewis Auerbach, Compassionate Ottawa volunteer. Drawing on Mr. Johnston’s latest book, entitled “Trust,” they discussed the link between empathy and trust; what it means to be a compassionate community; and what we can do as a community to build trust and to support one another.

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