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Treading Above Water: Education Series on Dying and Death

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Treading Above Water: Education Series on Dying and Death


About this course

This program is offered virtually and open to anyone who has been impacted by cancer. Membership is not required to participate. 

Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto invites you to join us for our new education series, Treading Above Water.  Each week throughout the month of April we will provide virtual educational opportunities to learn from subject matter experts about the difficult topic of dying and death.


Treading Above Water is an opportunity to learn how to process difficult information and plan the best options for you or your loved ones during a period of time when life’s waters are calm, so that you will be able to keep your head above water when life becomes more turbulent and the water gets deep.


Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. -Kofi Annan

We have partnered with incredible experts who will give you the tools to help support you through difficult decisions and conversations, please click below on the topics to register. 
7 Skills To Improving the Illness Journey

Dr. Sammy Winemaker has been caring for patients and families in their homes for many years.  This has resulted in all sorts of ‘insider information’ through patient and family stories that has allowed her to understand the major ‘pain points’ in a person’s health care journey.  She and her partner, Dr. Hsien Seow (a healthcare researcher), have deconstructed thousands of stories and revealed 7 essential skills/mindsets that will improve the experience for patients and families when facing serious illness.  She will explain how to move from an ‘in the dark’ experience to one that is ‘in the know’.  Dr. Sammy will explain how people can remain hopeful and realistic throughout their entire illness.   


Presenter: Dr. Samantha Winemaker BSc (Hons),MD, CCFP(PC), FCFP 

Dr. Winemaker is a graduate of McMaster University Medical School. She has completed residency training in Family Medicine, and fellowship training in Palliative Medicine. She is an associate clinical professor at McMaster University in the Department of Family Medicine, Division of Palliative Care. She is the Co-Medical Director for Emmanuel House Hospice and co-host of the Waiting Room Revolution podcast. She is an active educator, researcher and advocate for palliative care reform. 

Dr. Winemaker has a passion for working on a home-visiting palliative care outreach team.  Her main area of research is focused on models of palliative care delivery and articulating a palliative approach.  She advocates for upstream palliative care, open/honest communication about the illness trajectory and working in collaboration with patients and families to co-design their illness journey.  She feels very strongly that all health care trainees should graduate feeling comfortable providing the ABCs of a palliative approach for all patients facing progressive life-limiting and that exposure to home-based care should be mandatory.   

Death Doulas: Supporting the Caregiving Role

Often when asked, what does a Death Doula “actually” do the answer is very simple:  A Death Doula has done their job if they have helped prevent 911 from being called. Death Doulas are quickly finding their place in support of the dying (and those who both love and care for them).  Ready, willing and able to attend at the bedside regardless of the hour of the day means that Death Doulas are an ideal member of any team (professional, volunteer or familial) dedicated to helping each other to die well.  This Presentation will help to engage in conversation and answer the following questions:


  1. How necessary is it to have a Death Doula on an already robust palliative care team?
  2. Whom does a Death Doula see as their client and why?
  3. When does a Death Doula typically vs ideally onto the caregiving team?


Presenter: Tracey Robertson

Tracey Robertson is the Co-Founder of the Home Hospice Association (HHA). Tracey, in her early role, was responsible for an international environmental scan that resulted in the creation of services that are gifted to existing agencies to fulfill HHA’s “for anyone ~ of any age ~ at any time ~ under any roof” dream.  This environmental scan was the catalyst for HHA’s most unique service; The Bello Project, to preserve the human-animal bond when someone is faced with a life-limiting diagnosis, made it necessary to bring Pre and Perinatal Hospice to Canada and convinced HHA that the role of a Death Doula to our mission and vision.  As a result, HHA was the first in Canada to develop and offer training to individuals wishing to offer Doula services either in-utero or any time along the journey of life to death. While the work of running this organization today, takes up a great amount of time, Tracey is also one of HHA’s first Death Doulas to actively work for the dying of our communities.

Talking About Loss

In this presentation, we will learn about exactly what grief is (and isn’t!) and how it shows up in our lives. We will explore ways to learn to identify and carry our own grief, and how to show up for the people we love who are grieving. 


Presenter: Megan Quinn M ED, RP


Megan is a Grief Educator & Counsellor. She is passionate about providing skilled and compassionate support as people navigate some of life’s most difficult transitions. Megan has been studying and working in death, grief and loss for 10 years and draws upon a variety of approaches that help her to walk soulfully alongside those with grieving hearts. Megan has been a group facilitator with Gilda’s Club for 5 years and is proud of, and passionate about, the community created here

Feel Good Foods and Making Every Mouthful Matter- April 29, 2022 1:00-2:00pm

Please join Chef Amy as part of the Treading Water Series at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto on April 29th as she discusses and showcases examples of favourite feel-good, seasonal foods that not only provide energy and taste like comfort but are nutrient-dense and a great component of an anti-cancer diet. Making every mouthful matter nutritionally speaking is particularly important, but the social and emotional aspect of eating is paramount, particularly during stressful times.


Presenter: Amy Symington, M.Sc

Amy  is a nutrition professor, researcher and plant-based chef at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, is a current PhD student at the University of Toronto and has 25 years experience in the food industry including in restaurants, catering events large and small, in community kitchens and at various colleges. She runs the culinary nutrition programming at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, a not-for-profit organization for those touched by cancer, is an active Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) volunteer focusing on all things food and nutrition, she volunteers with the Toronto Veg Food Bank (TVFB) as a chef and nutrition consultant and does recipe development and food writing for various publications in Toronto and worldwide. Amy believes in the evidence-based health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets and is the recent author of The Long Table Cookbook: Plant-based recipes for optimal health. 


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