Grief, Bereavement  & Mental Health Summit

October 2nd, 4th, and 6th, 2021

Virtual and available to all










COVID-19 has had significant socio-economic impacts on grief and bereavement throughout B.C., adversely affecting the mental health of British Columbians, particularly those of vulnerable populations. 

The first of a series of activities to enhance grief and bereavement support in B.C., The Grief, Bereavement & Mental Health Summit will examine the Metamorphosis of Grief and Bereavement and the transformation with the advent of COVID-19 and as we move into an environment of integration during the recovery phase.

The Summit will provide a collaborative platform for interdisciplinary education, idea sharing, and awareness regarding grief, bereavement and mental health in light of COVID-19. Together, attendees will analyze current gaps to better support the future mental health of British Columbians. 


The Grief, Bereavement & Mental Health Summit 2021 is open to everyone with an interest in advancing grief and bereavement support in BC. The program will be separated by three streams:

    • Caregivers & Grievers
    • Interdisciplinary Teams
    • Funders, Policy Makers, and Senior Stakeholders

Session topics for each stream will be geared to the predominant group of people within that stream. However, all attendees are welcome to attend any session of any stream.


    1. Learn more about grief, bereavement and consequent mental health impacts and how hospices are well-equipped to support their communities.
    2. Network with other grief, bereavement and mental health stakeholders from a variety of communities and capacities.
    3. Gain access to valuable grief and bereavement resources.
    4. Interact with other stream attendees in the caucus sessions to discuss, review, and consider the perspectives of panel discussions to evaluate the challenges faced and provide initial recommendations for moving forward. 
    5. Be a part of the collaboration to initiate conversations for change around grief and bereavement support in B.C.

Event Sponsors 

Platinum Grant Funder

Silver Grant Funder

Bronze Sponsors



The B.C. Hospice Palliative Care Association is a not-for-profit, public membership organization, which has been representing individuals and organizations committed to promoting and delivering hospice palliative care to British Columbians and Yukoners for over 34 years. Our members provide a broad range of hospice palliative care programs and services to people in need across the provinces of B.C. and the Yukon with serious illnesses, their loved ones who are grieving, and their caregivers. The services hospice societies deliver are accessible to all, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, religious beliefs, or type of illness.

Meet the Task Group

Jessica Lowe

Executive Director, BC Bereavement Helpline – Jessica Lowe began as a volunteer for the BC Bereavement Helpline in October of 2017. In working for BCBH, Jessica soon found a special environment for which she is uniquely suited having lost her three siblings to separate tragedies due to Leukemia, homicide and substance poisoning. Her experience at BCBH led her to return to school to earn a Social Services Worker Certificate from Langara College. In this work she finds strength and satisfaction using her experiences of perseverance, healing, and endurance to give back to the Helpline and its constituents as a support group facilitator and as Executive Director. She brings with her 20+ years’ experience in marketing and advertising which comes in handy in seeking grants, partnerships and donors for BCBH. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University.

Angel Elias

Angel Elias, Executive Director of the Mission Hospice Society has been leading the organization to success in end of life compassionate care for the past 9 years. Angel is the co founder and current Chair of the Federation of Fraser Region Hospice Societies, bringing the Hospice Societies within the Fraser health region together to work collaborative as one voice. Angel is also  a board of Director on the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association board, representing the Fraser region.

Mission Hospice Society has been providing compassionate end of life care and grief and bereavement support since 1985. Our Vision is to support ALL individuals in our community through the process of grief and loss and end of life transition. Our Mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families who are facing grief and loss or end of life transition through compassionate care, resources and advocacy.


Marissa Stalman

Marissa Stalman is a former nurse (BSN, University of Victoria) and Master’s (MA) Student at Simon Fraser University–studying gerontology. Her primary research and policy-advancement interests include dementia, long term care, mental health, and end-of-life care. She is a trained hospice volunteer and served for a number of years on the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society’s Board of Directors. Currently, she volunteers as a member of the Maple Ridge Dementia-Friendly Community Task Group and the City of Maple Ridge’s Social Policy Action Committee. Marissa also dedicates time to the BC Centre for Palliative Care’s ACP (Dementia) Project–both as a member of the Task Group of Experts and Advisory Committee. She is a twice published author with her first first-author paper published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. 


Gail Potter

 BScN, MDiv, MN, CGN(C)

Greater Trail Hospice Society, Board Member, Spiritual Care Chaplain and Volunteer Trainer

Board member for 32 years

Sharon Baxter

Sharon Baxter is a private consultant specializing in executive coaching and as an expert advisor on hospice palliative care and health care management.

Sharon recently retired from her position of Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice
Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) after 19 years. Sharon holds a Masters of Social
Work degree in Public Policy and Administration from Carleton University and has worked on national health policy for over thirty years.

While at CHPCA Sharon chaired the Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada(QELCCC). The QELCCC is a coalition of 34 national organizations that have an interest in hospice palliative care issues. While at CHPCA and the QELCCC Sharon led the development of The Way Forward and Advance Care Planning in Canada initiatives found at and .

Sharon sat on the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) Board of Trustees for over ten years. Sharon has been on a number of other board of directors including the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in Washington, DC and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN).

Sharon has provided guidance to the federal government with the development of the new national Framework for Palliative Care. Sharon is a member of the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) College of Reviewers. Sharon is involved in many other national and international coalitions and committees looking at hospice palliative
care issues specifically around health policy. Sharon often speaks at conferences around national health policy, advance care planning, hospice palliative care, a palliative approach to primary care and is a strong advocate.

Sarah Cobb

Sarah has 14 years of experience working in palliative and end-of-life care. She is passionate about person and family-centred care and supporting excellence in nursing and multidisciplinary collaboration. She has experience in strategic planning, quality improvement initiatives, and change management strategies. Sarah led practice in the role of Clinical Nurse Leader at St Paul’s Palliative Care unit for over 10 years. While in that role, she supported excellent patient and family centered care as well as supporting her palliative care program’s Accreditation Canada process, and many initiatives across the organization to improve access to end of life care. She is currently the Executive Director at the Vancouver Hospice Society.

Heather Mohan
Dr. Heather Mohan is a Registered Clinical Counselor and an Accredited Music Therapist with a Masters degree in Music Therapy, and a PhD in Arts Education. She has worked as a therapist, program coordinator, researcher and educator in the hospice/palliative/bereavement care field for over 25 years. She has been a faculty member in the Graduate Counselling program at the City University of Seattle, in the Music Therapy program at Capilano University in North Vancouver and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the UBC Department of Medicine (Division of Palliative Care). She works full-time as the Executive Director of Lumara Grief and Bereavement Care Society (previously known as the Camp Kerry Society) –a BC-based, registered charity she co-founded in 2007 to provide emotional support and care for children and families coping with serious illness, grief and loss. Heather has been invited to present her clinical work and research on palliative and bereavement care at conferences and universities around the world: in Canada, United States, New Zealand, Japan and Europe.
Shannon Freeman

Dr. Freeman is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), a board director of the Prince George Hospice Society, and the Vice-President of the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association. She has published widely in the field of palliative and hospice care, including examining caregiver distress and supports when caring for persons nearing end-of-life, dyspnea at end of life, and palliative
patients expressions of wishes to die now.

Recently, Dr. Freeman has examined the experiences of professional caregivers and requests for medical assistance in dying in the non-provider hospice context and is currently leading work examining the effects of implementation of medical assistance in dying in the hospice care setting in BC.


David Hunt

Dr. David Hunt has provided medical care for the past 50 years to the citizens of BC as a specialist in Emergency Medicine, Pain Specialist and the last six years as a full time consultant in Palliative Care with the North Shore Palliative Care Program. This also includes providing care in The Palliative Care Unit, chemo unit Emergency Dept and wards of Lions Gate Hospital as well as in the North Shore Hospice and Community.

Prior to embarking on Palliative Care, David took a certified Hospice Volunteer Program at St Paul’s Hospital. With this perspective, David became very aware of the significant comfort and contributions hospice volunteers make in the hospital setting, in the Hospices and especially in our communities.

David believes and is a strong advocate of the BCHPCA and that the association is vital and “the glue” that our system of providing quality and universal Hospice and Palliative Care throughout BC depends upon. David hopes to bring from his experiences as a teacher in work such as; ground roots first responder, editor and major contributor of the WCB Industrial /Occupational First Aid Manual and advanced paramedic services, initiated and directed the first Advanced Life Support Program in Vancouver for BC Ambulance and went on to found the Paramedic Air Ambulance and many teaching programs for nurses and physicians.

David brings a profound knowledge as a Palliative Care physician, educator, community leader and advocate to the Board.

Huda Nooh

Huda’s passion is working with vulnerable populations who suffer from chronic mental health and substance use. She worked as a Mental Health and Substance use nurse for six years. Huda currently works as a Clinical Planner for Indigenous Mental Health and Substance use  Programs and  Projects with Vancouver Coastal Health. 

Barb Maclean

Barb has over 30 years’ experience in non-profit, government and private sectors. She spent many years in the developmental disabilities field, specializing in supporting some of the most complex and challenging individuals living at home, in residential care and in school settings.

Barb has a Bachelor of Arts from UBC and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training from RRU.

Barb knows first-hand what it’s like to juggle work, a young family and caregiving—she supported her family during her own mother’s fight with cancer. Barb is committed to influencing change to achieve recognition and support for family caregivers.

Merri Schwartz

Merri Schwartz joined the Kalein Hospice Centre Society in May of 2021 as Senior Operations Manager. With 16 years in the non-profit sector, Merri brings a passion for governance, a deep commitment to community, and a personal motivation to see rural hospice care succeed. 

Debbie Butt
Debbie leads the communications, marketing and proprietary fundraising events team for Canuck Place. Working in partnership with families, volunteers, clinical and fundraising staff the communications and events team engages the community, donors and builds awareness of the positive impact of Canuck Place programs on children with life-threatening illnesses and BC families.
Previously, Debbie was the Director of Communications & Brand for the Rick Hansen Leadership group supporting initiatives of the 25th Anniversary Man in Motion World Tour, Rick Hansen Heroes CTV Special and the key lead on the Difference Maker Series for the London 2012 Games. As Executive Director of the independent not-for-profit Canucks for Kids Fund and Director of Community Partnerships, she led the largest NHL-team charity from 2005 to 2010 generating grants of over $14.3 million to BC charities serving children. Debbie was the Director of Communications for four years for the BC Lions Football Club and held the same title with the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA for a six-year tenure and led the Spinoza Bear program for the Grizzlies Foundation.
Debbie completed her degree in journalism from Ryerson Polytechnical University after graduating from the University of British Columbia in Human Kinetics.
Shelly Cory

More information to come.

Jane Sterk

Jane has a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology and has held a variety of employment
experiences including public school teacher; Mental Health Consultant within public health specializing in organizational development, team building and individual and family counselling; an entrepreneur operating a retail store and an offshoot business configuring and installing networks; a psychologist in private practice; a mentor to women entrepreneurs; a university instructor in business ethics and organizational behavior; leader of the Green Party of BC; and ED for two organizations in the intimate partner, domestic and sexualized violence sector.

Jane represents the Vancouver Island Federation of Hospices (VIFoH) a non-profit organization that promotes hospices on Vancouver Island within the regions of Southern Vancouver Island,Gulf Islands, Central Vancouver Island and Northern Vancouver Island.

Jane’s experience in government and public relations and strategic leadership will be vital to the Board.

Jane believes in this time of unprecedented awareness of death, dying and bereavement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is critically important that BCHPCA exercise its importance as an umbrella organization and bring awareness of Hospice Palliative Care to all.

Marney Thompson

I am a counsellor and have worked in end of life care and bereavement for over 30 years. I am a published author and my current research interests include bereavement following assisted death and prolonged grief disorder.

In addition to my administrative and clinical work, I am a founding member of the Canadian Grief Alliance and I also work as a consultant and writer in the field of grief and bereavement.

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