Palliative care

châ chî miywâyimuhâkiniwit âkâ shâsh chî wîchihâkiniwit

Palliative Care is treatment and support to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for people with a serious illness that can not be cured. 

The word “palliate” means to make (a disease or its symptoms) less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause.

Palliative care is organized and provided by a care team that includes the doctor. Patients and those close to them contribute to decisions about palliative care.

Palliative care can involve:

  • pain management
  • management of symptoms, such as: nausea, anxiety, depression and difficulty breathing
  • social, psychological and emotional support
  • caregiver support

Palliative care can also be provided earlier in the course of the person’s illness, at the same time curative treatment (treatment aimed at healing).

How is palliative care provided in the Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee?

Palliative care is organized by the local Cree Health Board Community Miyupimaatisiiun Centre (CMC) or Chisasibi Hospital, in consultation with the patient and his or her close family.

Dr. Vanessa Cardy is a doctor working in Chisasibi with a special interest in palliative care. She is available to consult with patients and their families and explain options to them. 

Palliative Care outside Eeyou Istchee

If a person is outside Eeyou Istchee at the end of their life, palliative care is provided by the hospital or hospice where they are staying “down south”. Wiichihiituwin (Cree Patient Services) will provide the services of a Cree interpreter, Community Worker, Liaison or Pivot Nurse, etc. to help patients communicate in Cree and also access their benefits as Cree Beneficiaries under the JBNQA.

If a patient is able to travel safely, and wishes to spend their final days at home, Wiichihiituwin (Cree Patient Services) will help bring the patient back to their home community to receive palliative care. 

Note: If a person passes away outside their home community, Cree non-insured health benefits (CNIHB) will cover the cost of bringing the deceased back for burial in their home community in Eeyou Istchee.

Resources and Readings

Organ Donation: A Personal Choice

Video: Completing the Circle: End of Life Care with Aboriginal Families

Cree Medical Terminology from the CBHSSJB Cancer Project

Canadian Virtual Hospice

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

Health Canada Palliative Care information

Association québécoise de soins palliatifs (French only)

Government of Quebec: Advance Medical Directives

Government of Quebec: Medical Aid in Dying

Caring for the Terminally Ill: Honouring the Choices of the People,-2nd-edition.aspx


Dr. Vanessa Cardy
Assistant Chief
Chisasibi Hospital