When speaking with Angelina Ireland, you can’t help but be inspired by this pro-life woman’s compassion, grit and determination. As President of Delta Hospice Society, Angelina has been through the wringer this past year and a half in her efforts to defend the group’s pro-life principles against almost unrelenting attacks.
Delta Hospice Society was founded in Langley, British Columbia, 30 years ago to support and promote palliative care, the physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional care of people with chronic illnesses in their final period of life.
The current board is unequivocally pro-life and is seeking to keep the Society and its facilities as a ‘sanctuary’ from pro-euthanasia proponents. But the battle has been unbelievably challenging.
Eleven years ago, the Society raised $8.5 million and built two palliative care facilities on government land: the first, a 10 bed Hospice offering palliative care for end-of-life patients; and the second a state-of-the-art 7500 square foot supportive care facility offering grief counselling and other services for people in the community, especially palliative patients and/or their loved ones.
In exchange for $1.5 million in government funding per annum, the dedicated staff of the Hospice offered comfort and care to patients in their final days, weeks and months of life. Euthanasia was not legal and not provided.
However, when Canada ushered in Medical Aid in Dying (a euphemism for euthanasia) in 2016, government officials and pro-euthanasia activists began pressuring palliative care facilities that received government funding to provide euthanasia, and the Delta Hospice Society soon found themselves a target.
“Palliative care was never intended to be for euthanasia,” stated Angelina. “It is a 50-year-old medical discipline that is about providing life-affirming compassion and care. We are against euthanasia/MAiD which is a procedure that has nothing to do with palliative care. We want our facility to be a safe place–free from pressure and coercion--where people can receive the best in comfort and care during an especially vulnerable and challenging time.”
In December 2019, the Fraser Health Authority contacted the Society and issued the ultimatum that the Hospice must provide euthanasia or lose their funding. The Society stood their ground and a month later, the FHA said they would lose all funding within the year.
Then the government decided to take things one step further, finding a loophole in their 35-year lease with the Society which said that without government funding, they could be evicted from the land on which their facilities were built. “We looked into the possibility of moving the buildings we had built on the government land, but it wasn’t possible,” said Angelina.
“We tried to negotiate with them. We offered to cut the funding in half and still provide the same service because that threshold was allowed in the lease. They refused. Then we offered to continue without any funding. We pointed out that the law only required that there be ‘access’ to euthanasia and there was literally a hospital right next door that offered euthanasia for anyone who wanted it. Those in the community who wanted euthanasia could go to a place where it was readily available. We wanted a place where people who did not want euthanasia could go and live out their final time in peace and comfort. They refused.”
In January 2021, public health authorities walked into the Hospice without notice and began handing bed-ridden patients with chronic illnesses eviction notices. And the mainstream media – CTV, CBC – began posting stories painting the Society in the worst light possible. “It was truly awful,” Angelina said. “A witch hunt.”
Shortly thereafter, the Delta Hospice Society was evicted from the buildings they had built with their own funds and the remaining patients uprooted and transferred.
While all this was happening, pro-euthanasia activists from groups like Dying with Dignity Canada also began a crusade against the Delta Hospice Society. Hoping to overthrow the pro-life board of Delta Hospice Society, they bought up memberships to elect euthanasia proponents to the board.
A series of legal battles ensued around the sale of memberships and the meetings at which membership votes could be cast, with the courts repeatedly ruling against the Delta Hospice Society.
Most recently, a court has agreed to allow the Delta Hospice Society to hold a Special Meeting this fall at which members can vote to hold a virtual Annual General Meeting—i.e., a meeting to allow for a meeting!
If a virtual AGM is allowed, it will be a showdown to determine who will serve on the board of the Delta Hospice Society: pro-euthanasia people or pro-life people.
“I cannot emphasize how important it is for pro-life people to get involved on this issue today,” Angelina states. “There is something they can easily do today that will make a huge difference. They can take out a $10 membership with the Delta Hospice Society BEFORE AUGUST 3 (the court-ordered deadline) and then be eligible to vote at future meetings to uphold pro-life principles within the Society.”
The Society eventually wants to build a new Hospice sanctuary without government funding, without government land, and without government-sanctioned killing.
“This is absolutely the front line of the pro-life movement when it comes to end-of-life issues,” she adds. “We’re just a little Society that has taken on this huge, lengthy battle to uphold the sanctity of life to its natural end. All we have is you, our pro-life supporters. Everyone else is against us. Every level of government, the courts, the media. Everyone! But we will not surrender!”
To support the Delta Hospice Society in their fight for a pro-life end-of-life sanctuary, go to www.deltahospice.org BEFORE AUGUST 3 and take out a $10 membership. Or call 778-512-8088.