LGBTQ2s Advisory Committee for Island Health

Update (July 31, 2017):

The LGBTQ2s Advisory Council has been meeting monthly since 2015 and has piloted 4 education sessions at the Priory in Langford with 72 staff participating in the sessions.

They have provided educational sessions to Seniors Health Rounds, Residential Care Social Workers and the Geriatric Nursing Association of BC as well as screening “Gen Silent” at Seniors Education and Practice Support Rounds..

They have developed an information package and community engagement info sheet on LGBTQ2s seniors.

Also they have collaborated with the Community Response Networks BC  (CRNBC) to support health and well being of LGBTQ2s seniors in communities across the province  “Seniors Aging Out”.    The Issues: BCCRN link includes link to Gen Silent trailer       
by Stu Maddux


Update ( July 26, 2016): VLSCS continues to contribute to the work being done by the Island Health LGBTQ2S Advisory Committee. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month to discuss ideas related to educational and policy initiatives for IH staff and the organization as a whole. We began this involvement in  January 2016. More details will be presented shortly. If you have any questions or would like your voice to be heard. Email


Since 2008 we have been formally articulating our advocacy mandate through public education and collaboration. Read more about our activities so far..



The Victoria Lesbian Seniors Care Society (VLSCS) hosted and exciting and unique event. This was a rare opportunity for anyone concerned with healthy aging to look at common issues as they affect diverse lifestyles and to promote healthy aging for all.


Offer a welcoming space for women to gather to learn about healthy aging and how to navigate through life transitions. Increase VLSCS visibility and outreach to build a stronger community and draw in women who may need support dealing with issues related to their sexual orientation in later life. Inform the public of VLSCS intent to support a ‘coming out’ in later life group.

 Open Concept Aging


What happens when you are old, alone and need help? What happens if you are also a lesbian? More and more people are entering assisted-living or seniors housing. Integration is important; being comfortable in your environment, or home, is essential to ones well-being. Victoria Senior Lesbian Care Society (VSLCS) has a goal of creating welcoming spaces within health care and residential care facilities for ALL women.

 “The Visioning Women, Living and Aging Well conference offered a welcoming space for women to gather and learn about aging and how to navigate through life’s transitions,” quotes Patricia Parkyn, President of VSLCS. 


VSLCS has received funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors initiative for the June 28,2008 conference. The Victoria, BC conference is intimate, with only 150 attendees. There were eleven different workshops to choose from, impressive keynote speakers plus opportunities to socialize and bring people together.   Conference cost was 45.00 per person including lunch.   

This conference was a rare opportunity for all women, regardless of sexual orientation, to look at common aging issues as they affect diverse lifestyles.

Prior to 1969, same sex attraction was considered a mental illness, treated with electroshock therapy, medication, psychiatric visits and other, often drastic, forms of therapy, including exorcisms. Some women were considered “cured” as they suppressed their feelings and lived a socially acceptable life. As these women now age, they reflect upon these forgotten emotions and begin to contemplate the isolation within. Studies prove that isolation has drastic effects on aging. Other women, who did come out and accept who they were many years ago, faced being disowned by their families and have always looked after themselves.  Where do these women go? Who supports and looks after them? Another key isolation issue that society needs to deal with.

This was a conference for seniors and health care workers alike. If someone works with seniors this conference  gave them some more insight into issues many aging women face. There was a lot of information regarding trustees, elder abuse, pain management, fitness in later years, alternative therapies and community services for seniors.

 Keynote speakers were Dr. Mary Ann Murphy and Dr. Penelope A. Cash, both Associate Professors at UBC-Okanagan. Dr. Mary Ann Murphy has studied extensively on the First Nations accessing health care and social services and is also heading up a new interdisciplinary team on gero-technology. Dr. Penelope A. Cash specialized in “the meaning of home”.

 Keynote Address

Dr. Mary Ann Murphy & Dr. Penelope A. Cash

A Lessons Tool Kit for Living and Aging Well Past 100

Their presentation focused on information about:

  • Why women live longer than men.
  • Exciting new developments to report with respect to living and aging well.
  • Practical, scientific information delivered in a way that is entertaining.
  • New senior housing options, such as Billie Jean King’s new resort vs. integrated communities and housing for a diverse population.

Dr. Mary Ann Murphy is Associate Professor at UBC-Okanagan, in Kelowna, BC. She holds a Cross Appointment on Aging in the School of Social Work and the Department of Sociology. She holds a Ph. D. in Health and Social Policy from Brandeis University in Boston, as well as MSW, BSW and BA degrees from the Universities of Calgary and Alberta. She was a Health and Welfare Canada Doctoral Fellow.

She has spent the last 15 years as a social work professor and is on the Board of Directors of the Newcomer’s Settlement Committee of the Economic Development Commission and the Society for Learning in Retirement. She recently initiated the first set of Canadian student service-learning projects (that we know of) on aging, health and human rights. She led a major study of seniors’ housing in conjunction with a local community with a population of 25% older persons, sponsored by BC Housing and the BC Real Estate Foundation, involving the disciplines of urban planning, social work, gerontological nursing and geography.

Dr. Murphy is developing two innovative programs on aging for UBC Okanagan: an Aging Specialization within Social Work, and a Minor/Concentration in Aging, Wellness & Society within the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

She is co-investigator on a large research team examining Barriers for First Nations Peoples in Accessing Health and Social Services, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is also heading up a new interdisciplinary research team on gero-technology involving disciplines including engineering, management and nursing.

Dr. Penelope A. Cash is Associate Professor at UBC-Okanagan, in Kelowna, BC. She and her partner moved from Australia to BC almost five years ago for an adventure. Her work has enabled her to explore wonderful BC and the amazing Northwest Territories, even having a summer solstice there last year. Arriving in Canada the evening prior to the Okanagan Mountain Fire that ignited the community, her research work began immediately with a study on how middle managers helped to garner the response needed to enable the provision of health care during and immediately following the disaster. Twelve months after the fire Cash and Murphy put on an exhibition at the Kelowna Museum on “the meaning of home”. It had a profound affect in promoting healing and furthering the sense of community for those dislocated from their environments and forced to cope with disaster.

A member of the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Development, Penny is particularly interested in women’s health, the environments in which women work and live, and cultural safety. She is absolutely passionate about collegiality and team work. Penny’s PhD was a study of how women nurses work together to enhance patient care. This work continues, albeit from slightly different angles, looking at quality workplace environments, the importance of safe places in which to work/live, and lesbian and bisexual women’s health.

Speakers Bios and Topic Summaries


Session 1

Barbara Findlay, QC – The Legal Aspects of Aging

Barbara Findlay, QC is a 59 years old, non-trans, lesbian lawyer. She grew up working class and was raised Christian in a prairie city. She specializes in legal problems of lesbians, gay men, transgender and bisexual people. In her spare time she does unlearning oppression work. The Legal Aspects of Aging includes discussion of wills, representation agreements, and living wills; power of attorney, committeeship and the Public Trustee; and ensuring care is lesbian-positive.

Dr. Ruth Simkin – Pain Management

Pain – What is it? What can you do about it? Dr. Simkin will discuss this complex issue, including definitions and origins of different types of pain; differences between chronic and acute pain; general areas in the treatment of pain and pain control; how to prevent pain; what we can do to lead healthier lives overall; wellness and how it can significantly reduce pain in our lives. A physician since 1973, Dr Simkin became board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2000. As a specialist in pain and symptom management of dying people, she then worked at the Hospice in Victoria for five years.



Session 2

Diana Kucharska, MSW – Coming Out in Later Life

Is it hot in there, or am I coming out? Coming out later in life can shift hormones and shake the foundation of your life. It can also bring you home to yourself. Honouring that each woman’s experience is unique, this workshop helps participants to explore the impact of age, decade, race, class, ability/disability, age of initial awareness, geographical location, family dynamics, community relationships, isolation, religion and spirituality on one’s ‘Coming Out’ process. Group participation, a short writing exercise and life mapping experience. Bring pen and paper. A social change activist and counsellor with over 20 years experience, Diana co-founded the Gay Old Gals, Toronto’s first social group for lesbians over 60, and has facilitated many coming out groups. She runs the very popular Lesbianism 101 workshop through her private practice in Victoria. Participants describe Diana as “fun, supportive, informative and relaxed.”


Leslie Whittaker – Safety and Crime Prevention for Seniors

A police officer with the Victoria Police Department for 10 years, Leslie Whittaker has been on patrol, on the beat, and in the bike section. She was Recruiting Officer and Diversity Manager for HR, and now is in the Research, Audit, Planning and Policy Section. In Safety and Crime Prevention for Seniors, Leslie gives seniors and caregivers expert advice on how to keep safe during the day and at night; how to prevent injury and assault at home and when out; how to access victim support services; where to learn self defense and other strategies for self-protection; what to do in the event of an attack or assault; how to overcome fear and isolation.

Caitlin Davies & Kim Dixon – Community Services & Housing for Seniors

Caitlin Davies is VIHA Home & Community Care Practice Leader for Victoria, Oak Bay and Gordon Head. Programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities, such as subsidized home supports, adult day programs, Assisted Living, nursing and therapy services. Eligibility, cost, services. How Home & Community Care fits in the health system compared to other VIHA services. Caitlin Davies has worked in Occupational Therapy in Canada, the USA, UK and Middle East. She now makes Victoria her home, along with her partner and daughter (and baby son due June 30). She is a member of Fernwood NRG Board and coordinator for Victoria Queer Parents, a network for gay & lesbian families.
Kim Dixon, with James Bay New Horizons Seniors Centre for the past 13 years, and a member of the SHAPE committee, in association with Beckley Farm Lodge, that was successful in advocating for seniors affordable, supportive housing and getting Parry House in James Bay, 20 units for seniors on fixed incomes, and Ayre Manor in Sooke off the ground. Kim will be talking about housing for seniors and the role of VIHA and Capital Regional Housing in getting a project off the ground.

Session 3

Ellen Meredith & Bonnie Hardy – Alternate Healing

Ellen Meredith, D.A., certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner. 24-year international practice as an energy healer, medical intuitive and conscious channel. Author of Listening In: Dialogues with the Wiser Self. Leads classes, workshops, and individual sessions. A participatory exploration of how your body’s energy systems work and how to influence them, self-healing and the healing of others.
Based on the pioneering work of Donna Eden, Eden Energy Medicine techniques are fun, accessible and energizing, and they can have a profound influence on your health and well-being.

Bonnie Hardy is Reiki Master & Practitioner; Graduate and Assistant Teacher, Canadian Acupressure College; Authorized Teacher, Jin Shin Do. She owns and operates A Downtown Strollers Bed, Breakfast and Bodywork in James Bay, serving an international bodywork client base. In Acupressure – Green Medicine of the Future, Hardy introduces acupressure and acu-points; describes acupuncture’s historical development as a healing art and its medical applications; and demonstrates techniques.

Braude – Dreaming

Braude is a certified trainer and facilitator in the use of community inclusion tools: Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATHs), Making Action Plans (MAPs), and Solution Circles. She believes in the principle of self-empowerment, ‘working with’ rather than ‘doing for’. “if people are going to work together effectively, they need to have a voice.” Your dreams do make sense! Have you ever thought that maybe you have lost sight of the dreams you had in youth. Many womyn become what others expect of them. Would you like to remember what it is like to feel passionate about your life? Then this interactive, fun-filled session is for you. Come explore what you really want to be when you grow up as Braude helps you gently open doors to forgotten dreams.

Community Panel:  Living our Lives  Panel participants will share their personal experiences as women living in a diverse community.

Margaret Trenchard came out of the closet at the age of 67 after seeing the NFB film Forbidden Love. Throughout her career and marriage, her undeniable attraction to women was a hidden guilty secret. Despite hostile reactions, disbelief, abuse and isolation, Margaret feels a lifelong burden has been lifted, giving emotional freedom. After four wonderful experiences, she is discovering (in her words), “The real fires had not gone out . In fact, I don’t think they had ever been lit.”

Linda Mills is a retired elementary school teacher and music specialist, formerly from Salt Spring Island. She has worked in every jail in Calgary, with men, women and youths, at every level of security, as correctional officer, caseworker and program director. For six years she co-conducted Victoria’s gay and lesbian choir, Musaic. Currently, she leads the local community-style women’s choir Giving Voice. She is Stefan Carson’s spouse and caregiver.

Stefan Carson was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease and Vascular Dementia in 2007. Now retired from an active career in criminal justice and forensic mental health, Stefan worked with federal offenders in halfway houses, and developed a provincial program for men returning to society from forensic hospitals, cooperating closely with both mental health and forensic services. Mills and Carson are involved with Walk for Memories for their local Alzheimers Resource Centre (ARC). Linda has 2 grown children. Stefan has 5 grown children, and too many grands and greatgrands to count!

Rhonda Underwood (MO’KWA’LO’GWA’ – Kwagiulth Name) is Coast Salish from Tsawout in Saanichton, BC. A very happy mother of two boys, she works as Social Development Manager for the Tsawout First Nation. She formed the first Aboriginal, Vancouver Island Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Two Spirited Group. Her community work focuses on bringing back traditional values, culture, language, and healing peoples lives from historical trauma. Coast Salish traditionally hold Two Spirited peoples in great respect as holders of knowledge, medicine, and healers.

 Conference Sponsors


 Sponsors are those who contributed $100 or more in funds, goods or services.  Donors are all other gift contributors.


This project was developed with funding from 
the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for 
Seniors Initiative.
Van City Credit Union  3075 Douglas St.  250-519-4240
 Menzies and Simcoe St.
 239 Menzies St.  250-483-7000
 Barbara Findlay, Barrister  635 – 1033 Davie St. Vancouver  604-251-4356
 Age Less Age Well  103 – Pendergast St.  250-472-7546
 First Memorial Funeral Services and Cremation  1155 Fort St.  250-384-5512
 James Bay Physiotherapy and Massage  12-230 Menzies St.  250-381-1234
 Kidd’s B&B  518 Point Ideal Dr. Cowichan Lake  250-749-7790
Leslie Robinson  250-598-6632
 Linda Mills (Giving Voice Choir)  250-665-6096
Lesbians on Vancouver Island


 ACCT Financial Solutions Inc.  1353 Esquimalt Rd.  250-383-3834
 Absolutely Fabulous Flowers  14-736 View St.  250-381-1055
 A&W’s  Greater Victoria Region
 Beans and Greens Coffee Shop  522 Admirals Ave  250-380-6336
 Cafe Mulatta  281 Menzies St.
 Ceragem  206-3214 Douglas St. 250-388-3995
 Debbie Norton  London Drugs @ Yates for Street News
 Earle Clarke House Bed and Breakfast  1461 Pembrooke St.  250-595-0944
 Fat Phages Fudge Factory  134 – 560 Johnson St.  250-383-3435
 Fotoprint  975 Pandora Ave.  250-382-9952
 Heartstone Holistic Health  800 Burnside West  250-389-0858
 James Bay New Horizons  234 Menzies St.  250-386-3035
 Jan McLeod, Holistic Practitioner  250-589-7912
 Macaroni Grill  3195 Douglas St.  250-385-2211
 Munro’s Books  1108 Government St.  250-382-2464
 Patricia Hair Design  6776 Jedora Dr. Brentwood Bay  250-544-2064
 Prime Time Video  3-230 Menzies St. 250-388-7376
 Santiago’s Restaurant  660 Oswego St. 250-388-7376
 Staples  3-789 Tolmie Ave. 250-383-8178
 Swiss Chalet  3233 Douglas St. 250-475-0334
 The Pink Elephant
 The Soap Exchange  1393A Hillside Ave.  250-475-0033
 2 Glassy Ladies  Moss Street Market  250-598-9908
 Van Houtte Coffee  3378 Tennyson Ave.  250-475-2222
 Victoria Community Health Co-op

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2011 Embrace Aging Education

March was Embrace Aging month, sponsored yearly by the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation and Vancouver Island Health Authority.

March 17, 2011, Patti Parkyn, VLSCS member and past Chair and Alexandra Henriques from Vancouver’s Qmunity: BC Queer Resources presented two sessions on Seniors and Sexual Diversity at the Hillside Seniors Wellness Centre. The focus was to improve lesbian visibility and inclusiveness in senior services sectors.

Both sessions were well attended for an inaugural launch.

 We have had a follow-up request to assist an organization in reviewing its documents and physical plant to ensure inclusiveness. We hope to have more of these requests in the future.



(10 – 11:30am) Seniors and Sexual Diversity: Planning for a Healthy Future

Join us as we look through a ‘sexuality sensitive lens’ to explore issues such as financial planning, housing and health needs for older women (and men).

(2 – 4pm) Seniors and Sexual Diversity: Tips and Resources for Organizations

Learn how to embrace diversity when caring for older adults with different sexual backgrounds. Take away practical tips and tools to promote sensitivity and inclusiveness in your practice, documents, and policies.

2014-2015 Partnership with Island Heath and Eldercare Foundation

Committee (Claire Schwartz, Catherine Casey, Madi McLeod, Patti Parkyn)

 This committee has been slow in developing by the very nature of the many tasks prioritized by this Board, however we are underway and committed to making a difference. There are two main conceptual outreach ideas being considered. First, outreach to formal health support organizations to enhance their understanding and implementation of sexual diversity and gender policy & practices, and secondly to build knowledge and political advocacy within our gay community.

 Outreach to formal health support organizations involves anticipating the probable needs of our elder lesbian community and focusing on outreach to residential, institutional and home support agencies. This is of particular relevance to our advocacy mission. Several board members have expressed interest in participating and so far we have had one planning meeting outside of regular Board meetings. This meeting occurred in September with Claire, Madi, and Patti reviewing needs, contacts, strategies, and the content of previous outreach presentations.

 Madi has made initial contact through Victoria Eldercare Foundation with interested managers/social workers/nurse educators at their facilities. We are working together to adapt research done by Qmmunity, SAGE and other sources. We hope this will be a positive trial and look forward to our meeting arranged for mid-November at Aberdeen Hospital.

 During this process we have discussed expanding the scope to include concerns of the wider elder LGBT community. Our initial outreach in this effort has included:

– Claire’s attending Island Health’s senior health planning day as a representative of the queer community

– Claire’s attending a meeting presented by islandZtrans to gain knowledge of the Needs Survey done recently by Matthew and Devon. Matthew expressed interest in participating in a relevant wider community meeting.

 With regards to our second outreach activity, building knowledge and political advocacy within our gay community, we have been reflecting on our very successful VLSCS hosted 2010 conference – Living and Aging Well. Hosting a sequel conference is a tentative goal, but to revisit this type of educational opportunity would take great resources and the support of a funding grant. Another idea put forward for consideration are VLSCS workshops in a “cafe” format, using available teachers and professional resources on pertinent subjects such as wills, advanced directives, health/diet/exercise, economic concerns and resources, bereavement support, and more.

 We are in the early stages of developing partnerships and identifying objectives and goals to pursue with regards to education and outreach. We welcome participation and ideas at all times.