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About us

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.

sound on for best experience

Meet the Committee
Alberta Health Services Calgary Zone

Tracy Sutton.jpg

Tracy Sutton, Co-Chair,

R. Psych

Manager, Advance Care Planning & Grief Support Program

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Jennifer Zelmer, Member


Education Consultant,

Advance Care Planning

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Rhonda Poetker, Member

Advance Care Planning Goals of Care & Grief Support

Amanda Picture.jpg

Amanda Lucas, Co-Chair


Clinical Nurse Specialist,

Palliative and End of Life Care

Anita Picture.jpg

Anita Barry, Member

Senior Project Manager

Seniors, Palliative & Cont. Care

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Wendi Kerr, Member

Program Coordinator

Living with Advanced Illness Centre

Hospice Calgary

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Bev Berg, Co-Chair



Palliative and End of Life Care

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Marie Wong, Member

Manager, Volunteer Services

Rosedale Hospice

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Betty Niessen, Member

Administrative Assistant

Palliative/End of Life Care

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Lauren Hutchison, Member


Clinical Nurse Specialist

Palliative Care Consult Service

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Margot Sondermann, Member

PT Palliative Consultant for Severe Lung Disease

Palliative Care Consult Service

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Chelsea Davidson, Member


Project Coordinator

Palliative Care Consult Service

Heather Shantz

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. 


Aligned with Heather’s commitment to continuous learning about matters of the body, mind, heart, and soul, we are honoured to announce that Dr. Winemaker’s presentation at the 2023 Mary O’Connor Conference will be made possible with the support of the Heather Shantz memorial fund.


To donate to the Heather Shantz Memorial Lecture Fund:




To learn more about Heather’s Story:  Living and Dying My Way: Heather's Story - YouTube

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The Heather Shantz Memorial Lecture Fund was formed to create an annual legacy lecture; reflective of quality, holistic, palliative and end of life care.
What We're About
The Mary O'Connor Story
The Quilt

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.  




The Quilt

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 created for us by Bev Rinehart.

In the past, raffle tickets were sold at the in-person conferences and proceeds were used as a mechanism to help support some costs of the conference and keep registration costs as low as possible. This year, if you register and attend our virtual conference – you will automatically be entered for a chance to win this year’s quilt!

Bev Rinehart, now retired, has been an integral part of the palliative, end of life and hospice community in the Calgary zone. Personal experience with the palliative community has also affirmed Bev’s deep appreciation for the passion, compassion, and interdisciplinary approach used in palliative and end of life care.


The quilt, this year like every year, has been made with love. It is also a symbol of the care and support of a community of carers that come along side those at the end of life to offer excellence in patient and family-centered care.

This year’s quilt theme is near and dear to Bev’s own heart and is aptly named “Our Hearts Will Go On”.  Bev understands the heartfelt tenderness that occurs during life transitions and the way in which our patients and the people they care about will be impacted as the end of life draws near.


*Quilt draw winner must be in attendance.

The MONK Painting

Mary O'Connor Story

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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.

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.

Contact Us
Heather Shantz Memorial Fund
More about PEOLC

Learn More about PEOLC

Palliative and End of Life Care

Calgary Zone

Palliative and End of Life Care VISION:
All adults in the Calgary Zone have access to excellent, sustainable, integrated advance care planning, palliative and hospice care, and bereavement support.
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