Grief: The Surprises in Store

By Elaine Schiman

This is only the third time I’ve written or spoken publicly about loss and grief. And let’s start by saying I’m no expert. The first time was a speech at my husband’s celebration of life in December 2017; the second was at Hospice Yukon’s Lights of Life ceremony in December 2018; and, this is the third. It’s hard to say why I do it. In a way, it seems self-defeating. Because no matter how much you write or talk about it to others, I believe the experience of grief is indecipherable to everyone but those who are already there.

Elaine & Greg in Maui, one of their favorite places to spend time together.

Maybe I write at least partly for myself and others in the same “grieving” boat. Ultimately, we all will be here, so even though it seems an impossible task, I also write for those who have yet to go through this, to give them a tiny hint of what may come, at some point in their lives; to provide a sense of what other people might be going through; and some ideas about how they might help. Because some of it was surprising, at least to me.

My husband Greg died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest, on November 2nd, 2017, about 20 minutes after we kissed each other goodbye, as he went to meet a friend. He was 59.

I got the news from the RCMP, at the door of the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse, after the concert Greg and I had been attending together.

It was the worst moment of my life, a shock for which I felt entirely unprepared. It was followed by the worst hours, when I had to identify Greg’s body and telephone our sons.

On that evening, I was surprised, and I still am, at just how huge this thing we call grief is. It fills you up, knocks you over, shatters the good things you took for granted, and overshadows everything but itself.

When Greg died, I had already lost my parents. Letting them go was hard, but I still felt strong afterwards; I felt like myself.

It was different with Greg. Because he was my life partner for 30 years, because we spent nearly every day together, because we had many hopes and plans, his loss meant that my life, as it was, has almost disappeared. I’m still in the process of re-shaping it.

There were other surprises in store. One was that missing Greg has made me miss my parents more than ever before. Three of the people I am closest to, who know me best and love me most, are now gone. There is no way to get any of that back.

I have also been surprised at how becoming a widow is like becoming a parent, in a way. Before parenthood, you have no idea how this new little person will change you and your life and, afterwards, you cannot explain it others who are not parents. You just have to get there yourself. Grief is like that too. You are changed, you have feelings you never knew existed, the loneliness runs far deeper than you knew was possible. There is no way to explain it.

Grief hurts physically. I didn’t know that. I remember hearing about people who lived with chronic physical pain and wondered how they got through their days. I now have at least a partial sense of what it’s like to carry hurt around every day.

Grief makes you question and doubt many things. When I had thought about Greg’s and my deaths, it was more about whether our wills were up-to-date, or how Greg might do, if I died first. I never feared for my own ability to manage. It’s so much harder than I thought. In addition to missing Greg (his ideas and insights, his hugs, his sense of humour, our morning coffees, preparing our meals together, and so much more), in addition to feeling badly for him about everything he’s missing, I have the indelible knowledge that life can end in an instant. It can be a struggle to find purpose and to reconcile all the decisions that led you to where you are today.

Grief makes everything more difficult and complicated: going out in public, staying home, planning vacations, just waking up to face the day. It makes you doubt yourself in new ways. There have been many times since Greg died, when I have been certain I am screwing everything up terribly. On the positive side, when you manage something well, big or small, it’s encouraging. I notice the growth of new resolve and confidence.

I have been surprised to realize how inadequately I handled the grief of others in the past. Once I felt my own grief, I couldn’t help but remember all the others in my life who had lost dear ones. I had only paid lip service to their grief, maybe saying sorry or sending a card. But I had no idea what they were going through, or what they might need from me.

I have also been surprised at what I do need, and how much I appreciate the helping hands that come my way. Food brought over (a side note: sweets are not the best option; we received far too many to consume!), invites to dinner or events, steps and driveway magically shoveled, help lifting heavy things, emails and phone messages sharing fond memories of Greg, encouraging words about something I or my boys had done. If you know someone who is grieving, make those offers, even if they sometimes decline. The timing might not be right, but it will be, at some point. Try to be specific about how you want to help. So many people say: “Let me know if I can do anything”. (I’m sure I said that very thing.) Although meant well, this general offer puts an extra burden on the person who is grieving …to think of what you should do.

I’ve been surprised at who showed up and who didn’t. Some of the people who have been most kind and present for me were friends I hadn’t seen that much of or who I didn’t know that well. Others who I might have expected to be there were not. I don’t say this to blame anyone. Sometimes you don’t know what’s needed or you’re not in a position to help. I’m grateful for those who were able to be there for me.

I’ve been surprised about how many people are in grief. Because of my situation, people confide in me about their losses. I’m often shocked when someone, who seems fine, has lost a child or a spouse, or has an illness or some great sadness. You can’t tell from the outside, and it’s best to assume everyone is dealing with huge challenges we can’t see.

I’ve been surprised by the way grief affects family. At first, I imagined it would automatically bring us closer and we would be there for each other constantly. That does happen at times, but it’s not always the case. Loss and grief throw everyone for a loop; there are new stresses, anxieties and needs…and when we’re under pressure, who best to take it out on but our own family, those we love the most. I try to be forgiving with myself and my own failings… and also with everyone in my family. We are all struggling.

The last surprise I’ll mention is that all the things you need to do to help you live with grief, are the same things you should do just to live well. Sleep enough, eat healthy, exercise, go outside. Do things you love and spend time with your people. Accept hugs, smile and laugh, find joy and peace when you can. Be thankful for what you have. Live.

I don’t know if the grief ever goes away. I don’t think so. But I have learned that it does subside at times. At the beginning, it hurt so much, I couldn’t imagine going on with life in that kind of constant pain. But now, when I have a bad moment, or hour, or day, I know it won’t stay that way.

One of our sons got married in October. I was worried … I wasn’t sure how I’d manage at an event where Greg should so clearly have been there with me and our family. But the wedding was joyful. It was fun. We had a really good time. There were hard moments, but it was reassuring to me that we could celebrate as a family, remembering the one who was missing, but also appreciating all the ones who were there.

That’s what they tell you, the books, the counsellors, the friends, the videos on Facebook, the lovely people at Hospice Yukon. They tell you that you will find joy again. And it was good on that wedding day, to find out that does seem to be true. And I know that’s what Greg would want.


Elaine Schiman is a Whitehorse writer who has used the services of Hospice Yukon.


TLC for Hospice House

New paint and roof at 409 Jarvis

Two years ago Hospice Yukon was able to purchase the little house at 409 Jarvis Street that it had rented for many years thanks to a generous contribution from the Yukon Government. Hospice has now offered its services to the Yukon public from this house for 19 years, hopefully with many more to come.

And the good news doesn’t end there. After the house purchase sufficient funds remained to allow for some much-needed renovations to the old house.

People often remark on the warmth they feel when they walk through these doors so we wanted to share with you what has been done to preserve the longevity of the house and maintain its welcoming feel.

Some of these improvements are easily noticed, others less so. Altogether, the upgrades – some big, others small – have made a huge difference.

The roof was really showing its age. We were able to put a new roof on the house as well as on the storage shed at the back of the property.

Two original windows were replaced with new, better insulated ones, and new window coverings. Fresh interior paint and new flooring throughout the house have made it feel much brighter.

New floors, paint and windows in the front room at Hospice.

The counselling room at the back of the house looks fresh and inviting with the new paint, floors and also a new couch.

The bathroom received some upgraded fixtures, and the front entry room was improved with a better storage system for our office supplies, and better lighting.

We were also able to put new exterior paint on the house, shed and fence, which matches the colours of the main house and looks great.

Bamboo panels were installed along the side fence in the front yard, creating more privacy for people who come to use and enjoy the Peaceful Place.

We are thrilled that ATCO Electric Yukon chose Hospice Yukon as its staff fundraising beneficiary this year. As part of this program they donated many hours of staff time to strip and paint our shed. The pictures show the incredible before/after result. Thank you ATCO!

Also, Hospice financed the removal of our old furnace system and installation of a new, efficient propane furnace. This has led to substantial savings on our energy bills during the winter months.

Plans for more improvements in the future are in the works. Some of these include installing new lights in the basement, as well as upgrades to the electrical panel.

Altogether, a great deal of change has taken place at Hospice over the last two years. Please stop by to take it all in!

Hospice Board Sees Change in 2017

Hospice Yukon has been blessed with being served by many skilled and dedicated board members since its inception more than 27 years ago.

2017 was a year of change for our Board of Directors. We said a huge thank you and fond farewell to long-time volunteer and board member, Lori Eastmure, and a warm welcome to new board member, Patricia McGarr. Here you can learn a bit more about Lori and Patricia and their roles at Hospice.

Lori was involved with Hospice since the early 1990s. In her early years of involvement she co-facilitated adult grief groups. For the past 11 years she served as a dedicated board member, and many of those were as co-chair of the board. She stepped down in May of this year. Several years ago Hospice awarded Lori with an honorary lifetime membership in recognition of her dedication and involvement. Her dedication and passion for Hospice services, and her warm, gentle nature will be missed at Hospice.

Here are a few words Lori had to share upon leaving Hospice this spring:

Losing my husband as a young wife was very difficult. I had no experience of loss this close. The advice back then was essentially about ‘getting on’ with life. I attended a grief group lead by Jackie McLaren and Sue Grabner which was life-changing. The following year Hospice Yukon was formed. I wasn’t ready to become a volunteer the first year but the second year I took the volunteer training and was on my way to healing in a very good way. One of these ways was in turning my attention to supporting others. It was transformative.

I started as a volunteer grief group ‘shadow’ leader. From there I co-led grief groups for many years. I really enjoyed meeting so many people in such a deep and meaningful way.

I joined the Board in 2006. Later, I became co-chair and held that position for many years. I think I had this long term commitment because of the remarkable people I met through this organization – the staff, the volunteers and our clients.  I have loved the challenges, the friendships and the accomplishments – especially the dream I and others have had for so many years – to secure a permanent home for our organization, which we accomplished in 2015.

I don’t know where I’d be today without Hospice. Thank you all for enriching my life. “

Thank you, Lori, for all you have shared with Hospice over the years.

And now, we welcome Patricia McGarr to our Board of Directors. Patricia has been a Registered Nurse for many years, and has been involved in various capacities with Hospice Yukon since its inception. Here’s she shares about herself and her involvement with Hospice over the years:

Patricia McGarr and her husband Greg.

I came to the Yukon 32 years ago from Scotland and it has been my home ever since – well, apart from a couple of years in Victoria (where I worked with Hospice Victoria); a short stint in Edmonton (being a new Mum and supporting husband in his Master’s degree); and a couple of years in Ottawa (working with the Canadian Nurses Association). I have a husband of 31 years (length of time married that is – not his age) and have two wonderful children in their twenties. We are lucky to have our son here with us in the Yukon for now, while my daughter is exploring Canada and the a camper van.

I am a registered nurse and specialized in Oncology in Scotland and England. I was the first coordinator of the Yukon Home Care program, which was when I got involved in the early days of Hospice Yukon. It was invigorating to be part of a very active planning committee when the association was formed, meeting weekly to plan volunteer programming in palliative and bereavement support. In the late ’80s and early ’90s I was involved in a variety of roles with Hospice Yukon including: member of the Personnel Committee; member of the Board of Directors; joint facilitator of adult bereavement group; and Program Co-ordinator from 1990-1993, taking over from Barb, our first Co-ordinator. (Thankfully, Barb came back on the scene).  It was always moving and meaningful to sing at the Lights of Life opening ceremonies with the Persephone Singers. Yikes! Prior to that, I think I even sang a solo at one of the earlier opening ceremonies in Horwoods Mall!

I took on the position of Executive Director of the Yukon Registered Nurses Association in 1996, where I worked for 17 years. During that time I had a lot of experience in working with local and national Boards of different styles and feel well prepared to contribute to the board of Hospice Yukon. It has long been my intention to be part of Hospice Yukon again in some capacity. 

I look forward to this opportunity to serve again on the Hospice Yukon Board of Directors and help advance the philosophy, principles and values of our holistic and essential program.

The Hospice Yukon Board of Directors currently consists of 5 dedicated and dynamic members (left to right): Christine Gray, Dr. Sally MacDonald, Patricia McGarr, Nansi Cunningham, and Debra Fendrick.

Thank you all for the important work you do!


Workshop teaches Compassionate Workplace Leadership

On November 29th Hospice Yukon will be offering a workshop geared towards helping Managers and other workplace leaders establish compassion as a guiding principle in the workplace and create policies that will support employees when their lives are affected by grief and loss. This workshop is offered in partnership with Yukon College and the Northern Institute of Social Justice.

Hospice created this workshop in order to meet a need we could see in the community. We often receive calls from Yukon workplaces when an employee has died or has suffered a significant loss, and co-workers wonder how to provide appropriate support during these challenging times.

This workshop helps managers and supervisors develop practical tools and policies that will help them support grieving employees and provide leadership during times of crisis. They will also learn to anticipate the challenges of both supporting their employees and maintaining workplace productivity during high stress periods at work.

The workshop also features guest speakers who share passionately about how they found unique ways to support grieving employees, and provided effective leadership when significant losses affected their workplaces.

Kelvin Leary, former Deputy Minister of ECO and Environment, has been a great supporter of this workshop since its first offering five years ago. He explains the rationale behind it:

“Planning for grief and loss is a missing piece in our leadership toolbox. We regularly practice fire drills and implement emergency plans that are rarely needed, yet somehow we fail to plan for tremendously impactful events like grief and loss that will inevitably occur in the workplace.”

Loss is indeed an inevitable part of life; it eventually affects all of us. And when it does, we experience the grief not only emotionally, but also physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Because grief is so all-encompassing, we know that it’s effects really cannot be separated from the workplace.

Some common symptoms of grief that can be seen in the workplace include: having difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, confusion, memory lapses, anxiety, social withdrawal, fatigue, and more frequent illness, to name a few.

In one study 75% of employees who suffered a major loss say that their reduced ability to concentrate lasted well beyond their bereavement leave. In other words they are bringing their grief to work with them. A grieving employee is more likely to make poor decisions and be less productive, a fact proven by different studies, as well as the experiences of grieving individuals at work.

So, what to do? How can employers help?

The key in helping employees resume productivity at work lies in creating a compassionate workplace. The research clearly bears the proof of why this is worth investing in: organizations who put their people first do better on all indicators of success. Employees who are part of a compassionate workplace feel more loyal to their organization and are more motivated in their work.

If you would like to find out more information about our upcoming workshop, Supporting Your Staff Through Loss and Grief, please contact us at, or phone 667-7429. To download the poster click here.

To register phone Yukon College: 668-8710 (CRN 10401)


Assisted Dying Legislation raises Palliative Care Issues

The legislation on medically assisted dying was passed in Canada over a year ago, in June 2016. We wrote this piece in an effort to clarify the difference and relationship between MAiD and palliative care, as well as highlight some of the important issues around the accessibility high quality palliative care to all Canadians. 

As most Canadians now know, in June of 2016 Bill C-14 was passed by the Senate, making medical assistance in dying (MAiD) a legal option at end of life for those who meet the criteria.

This change has prompted conversations among individuals and their families, medical and support staff, and in care facilities across the country. As a society, we are grappling with fundamental questions regarding how and when we die, and how we support each other at the end of life.

The Hospice Yukon Society has been engaged with this discussion as well. We see it as a fitting time to reiterate our commitment to support all Yukoners in any choice they make at the end of their lives, and to examine and clarify the relationship between MAID and palliative care.

Discussions in health care facilities, prompted by the MAID legislation, now focus on how they will support eligible patients who choose medical assistance to end their life. Doctors and nurse practitioners have also had to determine their comfort level with it: some will provide MAID to eligible patients, while those who feel they cannot must help patients find someone who will.

At Hospice Yukon, one of the points of confusion we have seen surrounding MAID is whether or not it falls under the umbrella of palliative care. The question is a reasonable one. Palliative care is specialized health care for patients and families living with a life-limiting illness, and MAID is an option for eligible patients at end-of-life. Both relate to how we live out our last days, but we see an important difference in their underlying philosophies. Because of this difference most organizations involved in palliative care believe that assisted dying is a medical procedure that falls outside the scope of palliative care.

Part of the World Health Organization’s definition of palliative care states that it “neither hastens nor postpones death” and that the philosophy of care is one that “affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.” Palliative care is often used with standard medical care, and strives for pain and symptom management, as well as psychological, emotional and spiritual support for the patient and their family. Using a team approach, palliative care helps patients achieve the best possible quality of life and live as actively as possible until their natural time of death. It can take place in any care setting: hospital, hospice, long-term care facility, or the patient’s home.

One of the greatest misperceptions we see about palliative care is that it is only provided at the end of a life-limiting illness when the patient’s death is imminent. In fact, studies show that palliative care can be most effective when implemented early in the course of the illness and has many benefits when used this way. These include an improved quality of life for the patient and their family, less pain and depression, reduced strain on health care resources, and, commonly, an increase in longevity and survival rates.

Accessing palliative care generally takes place through referral from the patient’s doctor, or at the patient’s request. Here in the Yukon there is a palliative care resource team that consists of a palliative care doctor, registered nurse, social worker, and community liaison coordinator. Palliative care can be delivered to a patient in any care setting. There are currently no designated palliative care beds at any hospitals or long-term care facilities in Yukon, however, plans are in place for a full palliative care unit to be built as part of the new Whistle Bend continuing care facility in Whitehorse.

The availability of palliative care in Canada is highly variable, and not all of those who could benefit from it are receiving it. Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott acknowledges that there is evidence that only 15 to 30 per cent of Canadians have access to high quality palliative care when they need it, regardless of where they live in Canada. This means that there are people who may not be able to access palliative care, but now have the option of seeking a medically assisted death.

It is important to acknowledge that there is a small percentage of people will choose, despite excellent access to palliative care, to end their life through the MAID process. For these people it is important to have the freedom to be in control of the end of their life.

However, in the face of the new MAID legislation our challenge as a society will be to ensure that vulnerable people are not choosing a medically assisted death because of a sense of being a burden, loss of dignity, poor pain management, or because they can’t access the quality of care they need. We believe every Canadian should have access to palliative care when they need it and not feel compelled to choose MAID because of an absence of high-quality end-of-life care.

Also, while a heightened focus on MAID is justified in these early days, it is important to maintain a focus on the greater context of end-of-life care. Only a small fraction of people with life-limiting illnesses will be interested in MAiD; the vast majority of people facing end-of-life would benefit from palliative care that is accessible across all care settings.

Hospice Yukon Society will continue to engage with the many questions raised by the MAID legislation. We stand behind the philosophy of palliative care, and believe that people have the right to be informed about, and have access to all end-of-life care options. Yukoners can rest assured of Hospice Yukon’s continued support in any end-of-life choice they make.

Hospice remembers Andrew (Jim) Boyles

Hospice Yukon was saddened to learn of the death of Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles on August 1st 2017, at the Vancouver Hospice.

Andrew (known to us at that time as Jim Boyles) was instrumental in forming the Hospice Yukon Society in 1988. After much work with other volunteers to establish the organization, he then became Hospice Yukon’s first president on the first Board of Directors. He served in that position during Hospice Yukon’s early years, and his leadership and dedication to the Hospice philosophy helped to build the strong program that exists today.

Andrew is also remembered for his love of music and his contribution to the musical and arts community. Music played a large part in his life and he generously shared his passion with the people of the Yukon and other communities he called home.

Program Manager, Barb Evans-Ehricht shared these words about Andrew:

“He had his finger in many pies here in the North and used his leadership skills and free time to benefit many organizations. Andrew was a skillful President of our Society.  I am grateful for his role in my getting a start in hospice palliative care; he helped spark the passion I feel for people to have a meaningful last stage of living, and for those left behind to receive the healing support they desire.”

Our Board, our Staff, our Volunteers and our community are grateful for the pivotal role Andrew played in developing Hospice Yukon.

To read more about Andrew’s life, please click the link below:

Completion of the Peaceful Place

IMG_1090The Peaceful Place in the front yard of Hospice House that has been taking shape over the last two years is now complete.

The final components recently put into place include a bronze plaque that welcomes visitors and describes the intent of the space, and bamboo fencing that gives some privacy and a visual separation from the parking lot next door.

These two features were the final additions to the space in the front yard at Hospice that contains a wood-covered stone altar, beautiful hand-carved marble swan, circular paving-stone patio, and two wooden benches nestled under the trees.

The space is immediately inviting. The plaque reads: “Welcome… This is a place for quiet reflection and healing. It is here for all of us, especially during times of loss. May you find peace and solace.”

Staff, volunteers and clients have been exploring different ways to use the space. Staff and volunteers have gathered there to remember a client who has died. Sometimes a client has rung the bell that hangs above the stone swan in memory of a loved one. Recently, several Healing Touch volunteers gathered to honour the life of a shared client who died.

Our hope is that the Peaceful Place will be thought of as a place to gather, to reflect, and to heal. It is open to the general public and is a beautiful place to contemplate and honour our losses.

The Peaceful Place was conceived of and built by local artist and Hospice volunteer Josh Lesage. While travelling in India he was inspired at the simple reflection of spirituality present all around in shrines, prayer flags, prayer wheels, statues, etc.  His aim was to design and create a public space in Whitehorse that invites ritual and contemplation into our everyday lives.  Hospice Yukon is pleased to host The Peaceful Place as a kind of ‘contemporary shrine’ that is accessible to all.

Share a loved one’s clothing at Lights of Life

Do you own a special piece of clothing that once belonged to a loved one who died?  Perhaps Grandpa’s special vest, Grandma’s apron, dad’s old coat, mom’s dressing gown, or a favourite t-shirt that belonged to a sibling?  These are precious items that are so much more than clothes.

They hold memories of the person who once wore them – their familiar smell, and a powerful reminder of their habits and who they were. The clothing of our loved ones can remind us of their presence, as well as provide some comfort through the grief after they died.

Hospice is looking for submissions of these precious items to be part of a public display at Lights of Life this year. We will present clothing and stories that invite us to remember our loved ones and witness memories taking on new form.

Would you like to participate?  If so, please provide:

  • one article of clothing that belonged to your loved one. This article will be returned to you after the display.
  • a short piece of writing about the clothing. How does it remind you of them?  We invite you to reminisce and share about the item being displayed.

This project was inspired by an exhibit in Ontario entitled Collecting Loss—Weaving Threads of Memory.

If you would like more information about this project, please click here, and email

Hospice Teaches How to Heal through Loss

Hands-holding-candleNo one wants to talk about death and dying.  It can feel uncomfortable, difficult to broach, or too personal. But grief is a path that we all walk at some point in our lives, and accepting and learning about this normal part of life can actually lead to a greater sense of fulfillment.

This is the topic of a presentation offered by Hospice Yukon called Living with Loss – An Introduction to Healthy Grieving. 

The workshop explores the grief cycle that accompanies any kind of loss. We talk about the importance of ‘healthy’ grieving, and share tools that will help you support yourself and others to heal and grow through times of loss.

Every loss brings about its own unique challenges. For example, the death of a spouse is a major, life-changing loss that brings great sadness. It may also bring on other losses, such loss of financial security, loss of social contacts, loss of status or changing family roles. Navigating the complexity of loss is challenging, and a normal part of the grieving process.

There is no ‘right way’ to grieve; the ways we respond to loss are as unique as each of us. Grieving usually lasts far longer than our society recognizes and can include a wide range of emotions.

Living with Loss is a grief education session and not a grief support group – participants will not be asked to share any personal information. You may consider attending this workshop with a friend or family member… it is an excellent way to support others.


The following offerings of Living with Loss are available this Fall:

Thursday November 19, 6:30-8:30pm at the Whitehorse Public Library

Wednesday November 18, 1–3:30pm via web conferencing at Yukon College Campuses in Dawson City, Watson Lake, Teslin, Ross River, Haines Junction and Pelly Crossing

To register, or for more information please call Hospice Yukon at 667-7429. For a list of all Hospice Yukon coming events please visit

Continuity and Change on the Hospice Board

One of the key measures of the health and success of a non-profit organization lies in its leadership. Hospice Yukon has been a dynamic, healthy organization for more than twenty five years thanks in large part to the time and dedication of its volunteer Board Members. Over the course of these two and a half decades we have seen both changes in Board membership as well as in the style of guidance and leadership that it offers.

John F Kennedy said “leadership and learning are indispensable to one another”, and the Hospice Yukon board of directors is working proof of this. The Board adheres to the ‘Policy Governance’ model of leadership: a set of principles that give the Board of Directors the ability to translate the wishes of the organization’s ‘owners’ (which in this case is all Yukoners) into the performance of the organization.  Our Board Members engage in ongoing continuing education to be proficient in this leadership method, as well as staying informed on current issues, and networking with other organizations.

This year, some major shifts have taken place – we have said goodbye to several Board Members, and in turn welcomed four new ones. We want to introduce our current Board of Directors; the five volunteers who devote their time and expertise towards shaping the goals and vision of Hospice Yukon.

Lori Eastmure
Long-standing board member Lori Eastmure

Lori Eastmure acts as Chair on the Board, and is our longest serving board member. An educator by profession, Lori was involved in the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program at Yukon College for many years. Lori was trained in Hospice Yukon’s first group of volunteers and facilitated some of our earliest grief groups, then became a Board Member more than ten years ago. Lori says “I have the privilege of working with a remarkable group of individuals who bring well-honed skills, unique perspectives, wisdom, and great ideas to the Board. Most importantly, they care deeply about representing our community in all of its complexity and diversity. It is inspiring company to be in.”

Debra Fendrick
Debra Fendrick

Debra Fendrick is one of our new Board Members. A born and raised Yukoner, Debra is also a lawyer and brings the valuable perspective of her legal background to her role on the Board. Debra says “I have always admired the work done by Hospice Yukon, and feel privileged to be associated with the organization, its staff and strong volunteer body.”


Chris Gray big smile
Christine Gray

Christine Gray works in YG Health and Social Services. She became involved with Hospice in 2009 as a volunteer with our Healing Touch and vigil programs before joining the Board.  She says “being a director allows me to support the growth of our organization and participate in the bigger picture of our Society’s progress in the Yukon.  It is an exciting time for us, and I am happy to be part of it.”

Nansi Cunningham
Nansi Cunningham

Nansi Cunningham brings a wealth of experience from her background in human resource development, leadership training, facilitation, and strategic planning.  She is also the owner and founder of the Vista Outdoor Learning Centre.  As a new Board Member, Nancy says “I am inspired to contribute to something that is ‘bigger than me’. Loss and grieving affects us all, and I believe in the power of support and compassion that Hospice work offers.”

Sally McDonald
Dr. Sally MacDonald

Dr. Sally MacDonald is a Yukon GP and oncologist who is well-known and loved for her patient-driven care approach.  She is involved with the Cancer Program at WGH and among other services provides extended care at Kwanlin Dun Health Centre. We are grateful to have her unique perspective and expertise in shaping the direction of Hospice Yukon.


Board Members Christine Gray, Debra Fendrick, Lori Eastmure, Nansi Cunningham, and Executive Director Stacey Jones celebrate the purchase of Hospice House in August 2015. (Missing: Dr. Sally MacDonald)

Our Executive Director, Stacey Jones, works closely with the Board of Directors.  She shares “There have been many exciting beginnings in my work over the three years that I’ve been here. Working with the board under the Policy Governance model has been interesting and empowering. I am delighted to welcome our four new board members and to continue to work with the chair of our Board, Lori Eastmure, who has served on the Board of Directors for more than a decade.”

Our Board Members may be less visible in their work than other Hospice volunteers, but offer so much in the vision and leadership they provide. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to all of them.