Conversations exploring the big questions about life and death are difficult for everyone. Despite the inevitability of death, we all avoid thinking about it, preparing for it and discussing it. Because our society does not see death as a part of life, those who face it are often isolated and afraid. The IMAGINE project seeks to dispel our fears around end-of-life issues and extend McGill’s and the Council’s reach into the local community by encouraging discussions that not only explore death but also celebrate life.

This concept is adapted from a successful week-long, city-wide initiative in San Francisco that brought together health, social, cultural, education and faith-based groups from diverse communities to host events centred on end-of-life issues. These events sought to spark conversations, break down taboos, and leverage the power of creativity to deepen the experience of living and improve the experience of dying.

New York City hosted a similar event, Reimagine NY, this past October. McGill University and the Council on Palliative Care are currently in the planning stages of an initiative in this same vein, that will take place in Montreal from October 14-20, 2019.


The IMAGINE Week, sponsored by the Council on Palliative Care, will be the first such project in Canada. Organized by the Council, it will consist of a weeklong series of events, bookended by opening and closing ceremonies.  The events will be held in local communities throughout the city, encouraging thousands of Montreal residents to participate in and attend discussions, theatrical performances, pop-up lectures and art exhibitions, all of which will have at their core the need to prepare for end-of-life.

Every two years, the International Congress on Palliative Care, which is organized by Palliative Care McGill, engages the world’s clinicians and academics in profound discussions on end-of-life issues. The IMAGINE project is an opportunity for McGill and the Council, in the alternate years, to bring that conversation and expertise to the community.  It is an innovative way to show leadership in the city and our commitment to improving life conditions for all Montrealers. By working closely with cultural, community, faith-based, and healthcare organizations, the project will bring diverse members of the Montreal community together around this important topic.

IMAGINE Week seeks to engage not only McGill’s traditional friends, but to reach out to the city’s most marginalized citizens, who often do not have access to, or information about, end-of-life issues.

At its heart, IMAGINE Week is about engaging the community, providing events that are culturally sensitive, meaningful and relevant to the many diverse populations living in Montreal. By breaking down taboos about death and dying, we are better able to appreciate life.

50+ community events, representing 5 domains.

 Arts & Culture

e.g. Visual arts, poetry, storytelling, comedy/improv, music, theatre, immersive art, film, photography, dance.

  • Healthcare & Social Services

e.g. Advanced Care planning workshops, caregiving, senior centre programmes, health and wellness – yoga, memorial events/rituals.

  • Spirituality & Faith

e.g. Faith leaders across the City preaching and teaching from the pulpit about the importance of end of life care issues and about having “the conversation” with your loved ones. Workshops with congregants.

  • Design & Technology

e.g. Architecture, environment, culinary arts, mapping the event

  • Education

e.g. conversations about death, grief and bereavement with students (CEGEP, high school, university), book talks.


By hosting the first IMAGINE end-of-life project in Canada, McGill’s support for the community in which it resides as well as its international leadership in the field of palliative care will be reinforced. The second event in McGill’s Bicentennial year, 2021, will further demonstrate McGill’s commitment to and investment in its surrounding local, national, and international communities by the sharing of expertise as it celebrates the past two centuries and looks forward to a future of partnership and leadership.

We hope that you will join us in our efforts to engage our community and open a public forum that will take shape in the form of art, theatre, and discussion-based events surrounding life, death and end-of-life care.

For further information contact Frances Morris:


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