How do we talk about death and dying when the very topic can surface fear, sorrow, and grief? How do we ease our death anxiety while also accepting the knowledge that we will inevitably die? How do we hold space for unnecessary deaths that could have been prevented? These are the kinds of questions the Community Death Care Project wants to talk about and explore.

The Community Death Care Project is site specific, particularly for communities made vulnerable who are connected to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) and Chinatown areas. The drug-poisoning crisis and COVID-19 have added much emotional and physical strain to DTES and Chinatown communities, amplifying ongoing systemic issues from the lack of independent and community-based housing to the disappearance of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. The conversation around death and dying takes on a whole new significance when we ask what it also takes to live where we ensure everyone is cared for with compassion, where everyone is given a chance to breathe again even after a last breath in order to die better.

Despite the increased frequency of deaths there is little dignity, agency, and support available around preparing for death. This project will provide increased meaningful interactions and social connections, information sharing and capacity building around choice, dignity, and autonomy for end of life planning.

The Community Death Care Project is co-developed and facilitated by the Carnegie Community Centre and Vancouver Public Library.

Where will programs and activities happen?

All programs and activities will be delivered out of Carnegie Community Centre and include online options. Offering activities online and in real space will allow participants to choose what is the best fit for themselves based on their own feelings of safety and comfort. The project has integrated some accessibility features to the virtual activities, on the program website and for the in person activities over the course of the program. Our virtual programming will provide translation in languages in addition to spoken English, auto generated closed captioning in English, and creation of transcripts and audio recordings for people whose lives may include barriers to accessing virtual activities.

COVID-19 Safety Protocols

As a City of Vancouver facility, Carnegie Community Centre has COVID-19 safety planning in every program and service we provide. This includes, but is not limited to socially distanced layouts for program space set up, providing masks and hand hygiene supplies during all in person programs, a comfortable welcoming environment for real space activities and support for online opportunities through our program partner the Capliano University Adult Learning Centre.  

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