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Public Ceremony Will Launch Kalein’s Innovative Vision for Hospice Care

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
September 16th, 2012

The Kalein Hospice Centre Society’s land dedication ceremony on Saturday, September 22 at its new location in Rosemont  will include an art exhibition, live classical music, light sculptures, and a request that members of the public bring a stone that commemorates a loved one.

“The stone will be part of a centrepiece that will live on here at Kalein after the ceremony,” says the Society’s Amy Garvey.

“Some of the components that we feel are essential to Kalein are art and music,” she told The Nelson Daily. “The word ‘Kalein’ is about calling forth the beautiful.”

The ceremony will take place at the former monastery property at 402 West Richards purchased by Kalein in April of this year.  

Workshops, contemplation, and digging in the dirt

The group is planning a hospice facility like no other. “We want to reawaken the conversation culturally around what is means to live fully at all stages of life, including end of life,” says Kalein’s Board Chair Brooke Leatherman.

He says the new facility will be a regular hospice, in which trained people assist residents in their last days of life in a home-like and non-medical environment, but it will also have a public component built on a campus model with workshops, seminars, conferences, and opportunities for contemplation, as well as a garden “where people can actually dig in the dirt and be part of the conversation without even knowing they are in a conversation, because gardens are cyclical, they live and they die, and you bring all of that together.”

Leatherman says that by engaging the community through arts, learning, gardening, volunteer work, discussion, and the involvement of schools, “all of a sudden there is a completely different kind of social and cultural relationship to how we take care of ourselves, how we care for others.”

Life and death will share the space

Leatherman says that the integration of a hospice care facility and a centre for dialog and education, in a single campus, is unique.  “It allows whatever is learned and experienced through dialog to be directly applied to care, and whatever is learned and experienced in the care of the dying to directly inform the dialog.”

Sixty-four questions about your life and death

The facility will connect strongly with the arts, including the land dedication event as well as the opening reception for Memento Mori, an exhibit by local painter Rachel Yoder.

“Through the process of losing her father,” says Garvey, “Rachel created a set of 64 questions that all have yes or no answers, like, “Are you ready to die now? Are you afraid of the afterlife?” She created a code and each one of her 64 panels relates to the questions, and so it is this visual representation of her answer to those questions. The questions will be on cards and people can come and engage with them. I spent many weeks considering some of the questions she threw out there, it brings that conversation forward.”

The event will also feature light sculptures by Cameron Mathieson. “I was blown away when I saw what he was willing to contribute to the event,” says Garvey.  “That alone would be enough for people to come up and experience this.”

There will be music by a group of musicians led by Nadja Hall, earth sculptures by Thomas Loh, and catering by SelfDesign High. “Visitors can tour the former monastery building and grounds, learn about the history of the property, and review development plans in progress,” says Garvey.

Sisters of the Precious Blood

Kalein’s new home was built in 1970 for the nuns of The Sisters of the Precious Blood, who occupied the building until fourteen years ago after which it was occupied by the Bishop until 2011.  Currently, Kalein is engaged in a process of site development master-planning to include both the Centre for dialog and Education and a Hospice Care Facility in a campus-style setting.

Architecture and landscape for a new kind of conversation

Leatherman says there is an emergent form of architecture that is specific to hospice, “so we are not just interested in putting up a building. We are interested in really exploring the architectural ramifications of this whole conversation, and how this can manifest physically, into an integrated building with courtyards and that sort of thing.

“The landscape piece will also be very important. In this case we are building a kind of public-private facility so it has to have a part where the public is welcome and can find places of contemplation, find places to work in the garden. And at the same time other areas of the garden will be specifically designed for people that are residents, and that give them the freedom to move out of their room, whether it is in a wheelchair or in their bed, and be out in the garden.”

A powerful yes

As for the upcoming event, Leatherman says the facility is “a community legacy, and people can start building their own relationship to it.”

“When I speak with people on the street,” Garvey says, “random people, I really see there is a lot of natural resonance in our community around this event. I continue to hear yes, a powerful yes.”

The details

402 West Richards

Saturday, September 22

2pm to 7pm

Land dedication at 3:30

Memento Mori opening at 4:30

The public is invited

Bring a stone in memory of a deceased loved one

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