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About us

THE HISTORY & VISION OF LIFE & DEATH MATTERS

Life and Death Matters was founded in 2005 with the mission to improve care for the dying through delivery of comprehensive palliative resources, training, and support for healthcare workers and individuals. We are outgoing advocates for expanding palliative care education for personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses in core curriculum and in the workplace.

In support of our mission, Life & Death Matters develops a growing library of resources (textbooks, companion workbooks, videos, and podcasts) to support educators and students extend their palliative skills and approach. Based on provincial and national palliative care standards, our resources are widely used across the world and have been adapted for healthcare workers in the United States, Mexico, South/Latin America, and even Nepal. No matter where they are used, we work hard to ensure all our resources are engaging and user-friendly – delicious and digestible, we like to say.

Throughout our resources and content, we use the title “Personal Support Worker” (PSW), aware that the job description and title may vary between location and region. Whether you are a Health Care Assistant, Continuing Care Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, or one of many other titles, if you are working with patients at the end of life these resources are for you.

The Arbutus Tree

On the cover of all Life & Death Matters resources is the image of the Arbutus tree. Often rooted in the crevices of rock faces and along the rocky cliffs of the Pacific West Coast, Arbutus trees thrive despite being buffeted by the wind, salty sea air, and rain. With papery bark that peels off each year, each Arbutus tree is unique. To us, the Arbutus tree symbolizes the strength of the human spirit, our ability to survive, grow, and even thrive amid difficult, even traumatic situations. Like the Arbutus tree, we may get gnarled with age, but each of us is unique.

Our Story

Greetings! My name is Kath Murray. I came to hospice nursing as a child when I witnessed death in nature, and then as a teen and young adult when close family members and friends passed away. I became a hospice nurse in my early 30’s and quickly learned that there was much suffering I could have prevented if I just had more knowledge, skill, and training. And there was born my lifelong commitment to developing and providing hospice and palliative care education.

Meet The Team

Kath Murray, RN, BSN, MA, CHPCN(C)

Ted Murray, BRE, MSc

Ann-Marie Gilbert, BSc, MSc

Isabelle Leslie, BSc(K)

Bonnie McLaughlin

Michelle O'Rourke, RN, MA

Greg Glover

Joanne Thomson, MA

Terry Downing, RN

Elizabeth Causton, MSW

Meet The Advisory Committee

Dr David Kenneth Wright, RN, PhD, CHPCN(C)

Coby Tschanz, RN, PhD, CHPCN(C)

Dr. Pippa Hawley, BMed, FRCPC (PM)

Sarah Weber, BA

Michele (Misha) Butot, BEd, MSW, RCSW

Bev Foster, MA, BEd, BMus, ARCT, AMus

Laura Bulmer, RN, BScN, MEd

Cari Borenko, BA, BSW, MHS

Françoise Mathieu, MEd, RP, Executive Director, TEND

Andrea Warnick, RN, MA, Registered Psychotherapist

Dr. Sheila Blackstock, RN, BScN, MScN, COHN, PhD

Keynotes & Speaking Engagements

Life and Death Matters is dedicated to providing excellent education. Contact our administration team for more information on speakers associated with Life and Death Matters to help address your needs for keynote speakers and presenters.

Colleges, Associations & Partners

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Kath Murray

Kath Murray

CEO | RN, BSN, MA, CHPCN(C)

A hospice palliative care nurse and a thanatologist, Kath is passionate about improving care of the dying person and their family through education, resources and courses.

Kath would say that one of her superpowers is pulling great people together – and the Life and Death Matters team and advisory/creative experts are examples of this.

Kath is grateful for the wonderful people who have contributed over the years to Life and Death Matters, and those who continue to contribute.
Kath is grateful for those she has cared with and those she has care for over the years. When Kath is not working, she plays with grandkids, swims year-round in the ocean, loves to be with family, friends, colleagues and faith community, and she is pretty in love with Ted.

Ted Murray

Ted Murray

CFO & Operations Manager

Ted brings experience in logistics, finances, contract management, self-publishing, public survey design, and in identifying and creating operational efficiencies.

Ted delights in making sure Life and Death Matters is successful as a business, while providing high quality resources and service.

Ted loves tools, fixing anything that needs fixing, growing fruit trees (including lemon trees), building a greenhouse and fishing.

Ted and Kath live in Saanichton, outside of Victoria, on the west coast of Canada.

Ann-Marie Gilbert

Ann-Marie Gilbert

CTO

Ann-Marie’s passions include research, writing, editing, education and quality control. She is also talented with computers and software, and what she does not know, she determines to learn it.

We have been blessed to have Ann-Marie on our team since Life and Death Matters was founded.

Ann-Marie is skilled at understanding research and helps Kath to translate complex materials into easy-to-understand language.

Ann-Marie helped Kath to write and edit the LDM textbooks, workbooks, online courses, instructors’ resources. Currently she is developing the online courses for PACE for PSWs.

When she is not working, she walks her neurotic dog, eats chocolate, and does all sorts of creative endeavors.

Isabelle Leslie

Isabelle Leslie

Program Development

Isabelle is part of the team developing the online program, PACE for PSWs, in both English and French.

She is also involved with marketing, editing, and responding to all requests. Life and Death Matters is so glad to have her on board!
Isabelle has recently finished her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.

When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking or paddle-boarding on the ocean, knitting something new, or playing video games with friends.

Bonnie McLaughlin

Bonnie McLaughlin

Customer Service Manager

Ted will be forever grateful for Bonnie joining the team. Bonnie heads Customer Service and is responsible for processing book orders, bookkeeping, and keeping the office organized.

If you have questions about book orders and/or payments, you will probably meet Bonnie.
We are so grateful for Bonnie, and her patience and humour as well as her expertise!

When she is not working, she grows a fabulous garden, loves walking, and does not love going for swims in the ocean with Kath.

Michelle O'Rourke

Michelle O’Rourke

Education Consultant

Michelle has an extensive background in Emergency Nursing, Hospice Palliative Care, Parish Nursing and Spirituality.

Michelle helped to design, build and open a ten-bed hospice residence in 2016.

She is a speaker and author – the most recent book is ‘Healthy Caregiving: Perspectives for Caring Professionals’. And is founder of Selah Resources.

Michelle loves to teach and inspire others. She is passionate about helping those who care for others, care for themselves.

As an education-consultant with LDM Michelle presents webinars, creates podcasts, writes, edits, and organizes!

We are so grateful to have Michelle and her multiple talents on the team!

Michelle lives with her husband Tom in Chatham ON, and is the proud mother of four and grandma to Ollie!

Greg Glover

Greg Glover

Graphic Designer

Greg is a highly creative graphic designer with two decades of experience in print and PDF design, 3D illustration, photography and photo retouching.

Greg has designed the LDM resources to be colourful, inviting and user-friendly.

Joanne Thomson

Joanne Thomson

Nurse, MA

Joanne is a former nurse, an educator and an artist. Her background as a nurse, her specialty in adult education, and her skills as an artist help her to create visual images to facilitate learning.

Joanne has worked with LDM to create all of our user-friendly, engaging resources.

Terry Downing

Theresa (Terry) Downing

RN

Terry, a hospice palliative care nurse, a leader, and an advocate, helped to develop the Victoria Hospice Palliative Response Team – a community crisis team. Terry is an incredible palliative care nurse and strong member of the inter-professional team. She is a fierce advocate for patients and families, and a phenomenal educator. Terry has presented to thousands of health care providers from around the world.

Terry’s new love is her corgi puppy!

Elizabeth Causton

Elizabeth Causton

MSW, Educator

Elizabeth Causton worked as a social worker for forty years, with over fourteen years as a clinical counselor with the Victoria Hospice community crisis team. A dynamic and inspiring (and unforgettable) palliative care educator, she taught for decades across Canada on psychosocial and communication issues.

As a member of the LDM team, Elizabeth and Kath love teaching together and have enjoyed their adventures far and wide. Elizabeth contributed to all the LDM resources, including texts, podcasts and videos.

Over the last 12 years, Elizabeth has also worked with research teams at the University of Victoria exploring ways to improve the integration of a palliative approach across all health care settings and has written for Canada Virtual Hospice.

Elizabeth is loving the little people in her life – as well as daily walks along the beach in Victoria.

Dr David Kenneth Wright

Dr David Kenneth Wright

RN, PhD, CHPCN(C)

Dr David Kenneth Wright is the academic lead for Palliative Care and Nursing Ethics within the Centre for Research on Health and Nursing at the University of Ottawa. He holds specialty certification in hospice palliative care nursing from the Canadian Nurses Association and works clinically at a residential palliative care facility (hospice) in Montreal. Current projects, with colleagues and graduate students, include nursing analyses of palliative sedation, of medical assistance in dying, and of palliative care approaches in diverse contexts such as intensive care, forensic psychiatry, and prison. David serves on the board of the Canadian Palliative Care Nursing Association.

David loves being with his fabulous nephews, loves sitting in artsy cafes, living among the trees, serving on the board of directors of the CPCNA, and visiting LDM in Victoria.

Coby Tschanz

Coby Tschanz

RN, PhD, CHPCN(c)

Coby is a hospice palliative care nurse. She is interested in nursing education and scholarship in the context of hospice palliative care. She is inspired in practice by the study of nursing theory and philosophy and by the example of the LDM team. She is an associate teaching professor at the University of Victoria, School of Nursing and staff nurse at the Victoria Hospice community urgent response team. Coby brings to LDM her thoughtful ponderings, her questions, and her years of clinical experience in palliative care.

Coby and Kath have become ocean-swimming partners – and for both Coby and Kath, swimming in the ocean, all year long, offers wonderful ways of communing and healing.

Dr Pippa Hawley

Dr. Pippa Hawley

B.Med, FRCPC (PM)

Pippa has a busy clinical, academic and administrative practice based in Vancouver. As head of the UBC Division of Palliative Care and Medical Leader for the BC Cancer Pain and Symptom Management/Palliative Care Program, she is also involved in a number of regional, national and international initiatives, including early integration of palliative care into disease management, management of severe cancer pain, and use of medical cannabis extracts for symptom control.

At LDM we are incredibly grateful for Pippa’s medical input, insights, wisdom, and editing in the development of all of our resources.

When Pippa is not working, her loves include sailing, hiking, and playing with the young ones in her life.

Sarah has worn a few different hats — addictions researcher (after completing an honours BA in psychology), accredited teacher of English as a second language, technologist in a community college ceramics program, and studio potter. Her love of words eventually led her to study editing at Ryerson University. She has worked as a professional editor since the mid-1990s.

Sarah came on board when we were writing the second edition of the PSW text. We needed someone not only to check for grammar and spelling, but also to make sure the language was plain and easily understood.

We are not sure how Sarah can stay focused on the tiny details page after page, week after week. When she is not at her desk editing, she is either training her dogs to do dog agility or competing with them in agility trials.

Michelle Butot

Michele Butot

BEd, MSW, RCSW

Michele (Misha) is a counsellor with the Victoria Hospice crisis team, whose graduate work explored reflexive, intersubjective, and anti-oppressive “love as professional practice”.

Misha is interested in the intersection of the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual; in trauma informed practice, and in supporting compassion, equity and diversity in end-of-life care.

She brings a quality of peace, wisdom, and gentleness to all her practices. Life and Death Matters is blessed to have Misha provide her wisdom and insights in all of our work.

Bev Foster

Bev Foster

MA, BEd, BMus, ARCT, AMus

Bev Foster is the Founder and Executive Director of the Room 217 Foundation, an organization dedicated to music and care. She is an experienced musician who speaks and writes extensively on the power of music, especially in life-limiting situations. Her passion for music enhancing quality of life is contagious.

Bev has provided input to Life and Death Matters on the development of the comfort basket, and ideas for bringing comfort in the moment.

Laura Bulmer

Laura Bulmer

RN, BScN, M Ed.

Laura Bulmer is a Professor at George Brown College in Toronto. For the last 17 years Laura has focused on teaching and advocating for PSWs.

Laura has been Clinical Coordinator, Program Coordinator and Curriculum Developer.

Laura is a SME on PSWs across Canada.

In the 2021, Laura was seconded to be the PSW Advocate/Researcher with OPSEU/SEFPO. Laura advocates for true regulation of PSWs, not volunteer registries. She is Chair of the CACCE (the Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators), is a member of the advisory committee for MCTUS Ontario PSW Education standards review, and CiCan’s working group dedicated to developing the framework for National Occupational Standards for PSWs.

Laura is dedicated to educating students and advocating for PSWs in the field- recognizing their unwavering commitment and the need for recognition, including title protection, standardization of education, standardization of scope of practice, full time jobs with benefits, sick days and ultimately national regulation.

When Laura is not working she walks in the forest, plays in the lake and loves feasting and connecting with friends.

Cari Borenko

Cari Borenko

BA BSW MHS

Cari’s vision, passion and commitment to early advance care planning has provided her opportunities to serve on, support and influence local, provincial, national and international ACP programs. 

Cari has co-created a variety of health care provider resources including clinical practice guidelines, policies and public resources which have been adapted in various organizations across the world.  

 Cari has authored two chapters and completed a thesis exploring the impact of clinicians understanding of health law on ACP. She is extremely proud to be leading the largest ACP team in Canada, focusing on proactive systems level implementation at Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, Canada 

 We are so grateful for Cari’s input in the development of the LDM resources.

Francoise Mathieu

Françoise Mathieu

M.Ed. RP. Executive Director, TEND

Françoise, a Registered Psychotherapist, is Executive Director of TEND, whose aim is to offer consulting and training to professionals on topics related to secondary trauma, empathic strain, burnout, self-care, wellness and organizational health. We are honoured to have Françoise input on the work of Life and Death Matters.

Andrea Warnick

Andrea Warnick

RN, MA, Registered Psychotherapist

Andrea is a Registered Nurse and Registered Psychotherapist whose passion lies in helping individuals, families and communities support people of all ages who are grieving an illness or death in their lives. With years of nursing and counselling experience both in Canada and abroad and a Master’s degree in Thanatology Andrea brings to her work a rare mixture of medical and psychosocial expertise.

Andrea lives in Guelph Ontario, from where she runs Andrea Warnick Consulting, a group practice of 30 therapists who provide grief counselling across Ontario and grief education across Canada.

Sheila Blackstock - RN, Educator, supporter of equality in Indigenous health care

Sheila Blackstock

Program Development

Sheila is a Gitxsan nursing scholar. She has over 32 years of nursing experience ranging from acute care to rural health, Indigenous and occupational health nursing. Her research, curricula and practice development is focused on improving wholistic health outcomes of Indigenous peoples and the quality of nursing work environments, focusing on the relationship of organizational workplace structures and processes to horizontal workplace bullying and incivility among Registered nurses. In research she has explored the role of oppression embedded within organizational structures, policies, factors, and the effects on nursing leadership and new graduate nurses’ experiences of incivility. The findings arm health care administrators with the information to change work processes and policies to improve the quality of nursing practice environments for nursing leaders and new graduate nurses.

She developed an interdisciplinary indigenous health course and an Indigenous nursing practice course for Thompson Rivers University. She is a Board of Director for the First Nations Health Authority and was recently appointed by the Minister of Health to the provincial In Plain Sight task force where she is working to change health care legislation and to inform changes to accreditation of health professional schools and universities.

Sheila also loves being fully immersed in nature.

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