‘swirling per­fec­tion’: As­sisted-dy­ing ac­tivist re­mem­bered at Hal­i­fax ser­vice

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - MICHAEL TUTTON

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered on Fri­day af­ter­noon to re­mem­ber a ter­mi­nally ill Hal­i­fax woman whose fight to loosen as­sisted-dy­ing laws cap­tured na­tional at­ten­tion as she dis­pensed wis­dom about life from the “bed of truth” where she spent her last days.

A “cel­e­bra­tion of life” was held for Au­drey Parker at Pier 21 on the city’s water­front, with more than 300 peo­ple in at­ten­dance to pay their re­spects to the charis­matic make-up artist.

The gath­er­ing at the hall over­look­ing the har­bour in­cluded fam­ily mem­bers, friends and peo­ple from the gen­eral pub­lic who’d been touched by her strug­gle.

Her cir­cle of close fe­male friends in at­ten­dance ranged from the Nova Sco­tia Pre­mier’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, the pres­i­dent of Credit Union At­lantic and na­tion­ally known broad­cast­ers.

Kim King, 51, a close friend of Ms. Parker’s who was with her as she was dy­ing, was one of the hon­orary pall­bear­ers who car­ried a can­dle up to the front of the Pier 21 hall where the cer­e­mony was held. “Peo­ple are in­spired by her thoughts about liv­ing your best life to the end,” she said in an in­ter­view.

Ev­ery de­tail of the gath­er­ing was planned by Ms. Parker, said mas­ter of cer­e­monies Nancy Re­gan, re­call­ing how they talked about it over Cham­pagne and choco­late-dipped straw­ber­ries at a meet­ing at Pier 21.

“I know she has a huge smile on her face right now about the gor­geous women who showed up to­day,” Ms. Re­gan said. “Ev­ery­thing about Au­drey was swirling per­fec­tion.”

Ms. Parker ended her life with a doc­tor’s as­sis­tance on Nov. 1, but said un­der amended leg­is­la­tion she might have lived for weeks longer.

Di­ag­nosed with Stage-4 breast can­cer in 2016, the 57-year-old woman had been ap­proved for an as­sisted death.

She used her case to plead with law­mak­ers, stress­ing the law had to be changed be­cause it de­mands peo­ple ap­proved for a med­i­cally as­sisted death must be con­scious and men­tally sound at the mo­ment they grant their fi­nal con­sent for a lethal in­jec­tion.

Fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters have said they feel strong sym­pa­thy to­ward Ms. Parker and her fam­ily, but they re­main con­fi­dent in the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion.

Au­drey Parker

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