HARRISON, Christine Elizabeth
Chris was born in Toronto on Aug. 14, 1953 and died peacefully at Hospice Wellington (Guelph) on June 29, 2015 after a long and arduous struggle with colon and bone cancer. Predeceased by her parents, James and Elizabeth Harrison (Main), Christine is survived by her husband, Ron; brother, Jim; sister-in-law, Arlene, their children Ali, Koal, Jack and Maisie; as well as Aunt Jean Buckley and numerous cousins. She will be missed by her mother-in-law, Annabelle MacKinnon. She will also be missed by her dear friends, Lynn and Mike and their children, Jane and Sarah.
Through nature and nurture Christine had a keen mind and forceful spirit which led to leaving high school seeking “real” life in the late sixties. Stints in shoe sales and as a bank teller soon led her to Ryerson Polytechnic where she took courses enabling her to enter the University of Guelph. She spoke of her experience at Ryerson as awakening a love for philosophy that deepened as she completed her B.A. and M.A. (1985) at Guelph. Christine’s post-graduate academic focus was bioethics which at the time was just emerging as a profession.
Chris received her PhD in 1990 at McMaster University. For several years she worked with a Hamilton area gerontologist and then local VON leadership with the broad goal of maintaining and enhancing independence and autonomy for seniors at a time when society was all-too-ready to institutionalize and infantilize them.
Christine then secured a position at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, working there for almost 20 years. Most of her time at SickKids was as Director of Bioethics. During those years, bioethics was maturing and deepening as a profession and her colleagues have noted she was pivotal in the development and growth of their community of practice.
Since their founding Dr. Harrison was a member of the Canadian Bioethics Society (CBS) and of the University of Toronto based Joint Centre for Bioethics ( JCB). She served as president of the CBS, chairing or co-chairing three of their annual conferences. Christine received the CBS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and the JCB has created an annual award in her name, the “Christine Harrison Bioethics Education Award for Integration of Theory and Practice.”
Perhaps Christine’s proudest honour was that her beloved SickKids created the “Christine Harrison Paediatric Grand Rounds” to take place as part of the hospital’s annual Bioethics Week program which she helped found and make an important part of its institutional life.
After she finally had to take medical leave from SickKids, Chris studied for and received a certificate in Canine Massage. She volunteered at the Guelph Humane Society, helping dogs under stress and sometimes in pain cope with their new environment.
Chris and her husband Ron delighted in travel and some of her fondest moments were spent with him on these trips abroad. In Ron, she truly met her intellectual partner and found a lasting love, solace and friendship both in good days, and in very difficult days.
We miss you Chris, profoundly. Your unique capacity to challenge us with your intelligence and your deep caring will not only be remembered but recounted frequently with both sorrow and joy. We will all forever miss your love and your beautiful laugh.
Donations in Christine’s memory may be made to The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), the Guelph Humane Society, or Hospice Wellington (Guelph).