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Mary O'Connor Palliative & Hospice Care Conference
See What We're About
The annual Mary O'Connor Palliative and Hospice Care Conference in Calgary, Alberta brings the heart of the palliative and end of life care community together to strengthen collaboration and gain new knowledge.
Every year offers a new experience.
Here is what occurred in 2017.
This painting of the old growth forest of Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island has come to represent the Mary O’Connor Palliative and Hospice Care Conference. During the 2012 - 2015 conferences, attendees were asked to explore how artistic expression and creativity provide a useful outlet for grief by adding their brush strokes to this painting with the enthusiastic encouragement of West Coast artist, MONK.
The trees represent the legacy of our loved ones as they continue to grow through the years, standing strong and resolute and impacting our lives long after they leave us. This helps us to remember the beautiful souls whom we have loved and lost.
This stunning painting is shared and hung in Calgary hospices on a rotating basis.
If you would like to contact the Mary O'Connor Committee, please email us at:
The story of the quilt:
The quilt is a long-standing tradition at the Mary O'Connor Conference; each year a one-of-a-kind quilt is designed and made specifically by Bev Rinehart.
In the past, raffle tickets were sold at the conference and proceeds were used as a mechanism to help support some costs of the conference and keep registration costs as low as possible.
Bev Rinehart, now retired, has been an integral part of the palliative, end of life and hospice community in the Calgary zone. Intersections with the palliative community on a personal level has also afforded a deep appreciation for passion, compassion, and interdisciplinary approach to palliative and end of life care. The quilt, made with love, is also a symbol of the care and support of a community; a community of carers needed for patient and family-centered care at the end of life.
This year's quilt is named “Morning Has Broken”. Sunrises always bring hope of a new dawn – a new day!
As one friend and fellow adventurer wrote:
“Mary transformed us all with her spiritual grace, her astounding courage in the face of great adversity, and her ability to step outside her illness and teach us all a new dimension of love.”
Mary’s dynamic personality enriched the lives of many people. She possessed an indomitable spirit hidden in a slight frame. She was the kind of person that you name your children after in the hope that they’ll acquire some of her qualities.
Following Mary’s passing, the employees of O’Connor & Associates, along with family friends, organized a fundraising event, “The 2004 Mary O’Connor Run for Life”, to celebrate her life and provide continuing support for her initiative to help others through their end-of-life journeys. Proceeds from this annual event have been directed to several palliative care programs in Calgary, including providing the seed money to enable the continuing education an awareness offered through this annual conference.
For this reason, the former Calgary Health Region (now part of Alberta Health Services) was pleased to rename this conference in memory of Mary O’Connor, whose own journey was directed to engaging and embracing people so they may learn beyond the horizon in palliative care.
Mary O'Connor Story
Mary O’Connor was diagnosed with cancer in the Fall of 2003. Supported by the palliative program offered by the Calgary Health Region, she treated her end-of-life journey as her “greatest adventure of all”, vowing that she would actively embrace whatever time was left and would continue to help others to her last breath. Her positive attitude had a profound effect on all those she encountered, and her influence has lasted long after her death.
Memorial Lecture Fund
Heather Shantz worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Palliative Care Consult Service Calgary Zone from 2001 to 2019. She was a graduate of the Victoria General Hospital School of Nursing in Halifax (1972), University of British Columbia (B.S.N. 1994) and University of Calgary (M.N. 2001). Heather lived with metastatic breast cancer and died January 26, 2022.
Heather was passionate about quality palliative and end of life care, mentoring, educating, learning, and sharing. She openly shared her lived experience with her colleagues, family and friends as she navigated living with a life limiting illness in the midst of preparing for her end of life. In the spirit of continuous learning about matters of the body, mind, heart, and spirit, we are proud to present our inaugural lecture during the Mary O’Connor Conference May 11, 2022.
To donate to the Heather Shantz Memorial Lecture Fund: secure.calgaryhealthfoundation.ca/heathershantz
To learn more about Heather’s Story: Living and Dying My Way: Heather's Story - YouTube