ABOUT US
MAID Family Support Society was born out of the realization that a peer-to-peer resource like this did not exist. Now it does. We are a group of caring individuals who have been through MAID with a loved one and have come together to be that bridge, to make the path leading up to MAID and the grief following a little easier for you.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE

MAID Family Support Society is registered as a Canada not-for-profit corporation and charity

MAID Family Support Team

Signy Novak

Founder

Sig is the founder and director of MAID Family Support Society. She founded the organization after her dad chose to have MAID in 2018 and she realized how helpful it would have been to speak to someone about what it was like for them in that same moment, someone who could truly understand how she felt. Read more about Sig’s journey in founding the society in our founder’s story below.

Robin Farr
Robin Farr

Coordinator

In 2021, Robin’s dad chose MAID and she supported him through the process, and then came to MAID Family Support as a volunteer to offer support she found lacking leading up to her dad’s death. Robin provides peer support in addition to her coordinator role, which involves volunteer training and support, request tracking and documentation, and anything else required as the organization continues to evolve and grow.

MEGHAN MCGOWAN

Social Media

Meghan’s mother went through MAID in the fall of 2020, having been approved a few months earlier due to her Multiple Sclerosis, and was the second person in Alberta to be an organ donor after receiving MAID. Meghan manages our social media accounts.

Alexandra Trasiewicz

Webmaster

Alex developed and maintains our society website. She is proud to be part of this community and determined to help promote this important resource. ATCreative.ca

Our founder’s story

My dad never had a sick day in his life, at least not that I can remember. He was a neurologist and committed to his work and patients. He spent long hours with families of loved ones who were diagnosed with terminal brain tumors, ALS and other neurological conditions, discussing end-of-life issues. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer on Feb 14, 2014 and was given a five-year prognosis. The bowel cancer spread to his brain and spine, and he ended up having intolerable pain. It seemed so unfair given his line of work that he would end up with a brain tumor and need radiation. I have had some difficulty accepting this. Life can be so incredibly beautiful, and in the same breath so unfair.

He chose to have MAID on July 25, 2018, at 8:50 p.m. He was 75. I remember leading up to the day clearly hearing my sister say that she wished we could speak to someone who has been on the same road. I think the toughest part for me, even as an RN, was that moment of uncertainty, feeling so unsettled – that moment when I realized the clock was ticking and my dad would soon leave us. To speak to someone about what it had been like for them in that same moment, someone who could truly understand where I was, would have been very valuable to me and my family. We supported my dad’s decision to use MAID from the outset; although difficult for each of us in different ways, we all stood by him. During the hours leading up to his death, we celebrated with some of his favorite things, good music, champagne, dahlias and family. He had a look of peace the entire time, which gave me some comfort, and I was glad he could leave on his own terms. The ticking of a clock will always remind me of that final day.

I had thoughts of wanting to set up support for families shortly after my dad died. I began my journey in September 2019, and spent countless hours connecting with healthcare professionals across Canada who were involved in MAID trying to identify resources available to those supporting someone choosing MAID. I would search these individuals online and send emails or call, and to my surprise many answered the phone! It quickly became clear that I had identified a gap. It was unanimous amongst those I spoke to that this type of support was very much needed. During this process I made some valuable connections in the MAID space, some of whom I continue to work alongside in our organization.

I founded the MAID Family Support Society in April 2021. It was born out of the realization that a peer-to-peer resource like this did not exist. Now, through a volunteer base of people who have been through MAID with a loved one and provide support to others going through it, it does.

As of 2024 we have grown to over 65 volunteers across Canada and to date we are the only organization that offers one-to-one peer support provided by a volunteer who has been through MAID with a family member or friend. We have provided lived-experience support to more than 400 individuals across Canada, including spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, aunts and uncles, and cousins, who are anticipating or grieving a MAID death. We also support non-family members, such as friends of someone who has chosen MAID. This support is available at no cost.

This has been a labour of love for my dad and I know he would be so proud. I think of the amazing people I have met who volunteer with our organization who I now call friends. I am in awe of life and all its twists and turns, all of the beauty and unfairness.

I feel very grateful to live in Canada where we have a law that allows us the freedom to have choice at the end of life. I think until you actually walk alongside a person who is choosing MAID, you never know what a precious gift it actually is.

Signy Novak