Ian Bos speaks about his cross Canada walk for palliative care in North Bay Tuesday. Photos by Dennis Chippa.
“We all die, but how we choose to die is the big thing.”
To get to know someone, they say, walk a mile in their shoes.
If you want to know Ian Bos, there are a lot of miles to do it.
The New Glasgow, Nova Scotia man is walking across Canada to raise awareness about a topic no one seems to want to talk about.
Death, specifically, what Bos calls a good death, through end of life care.
“I think the one thing most people are not aware of is how few people have access to it. That’s been the really big shock to me. Again, we didn’t know about palliative care until we needed it. We were just fortunate enough to have a palliative care unit in our area.”
Ian’s walk began in May, and, averaging about 45 to 50 kilometres a day, he’s already covered 18 hundred kilometres.
He stopped off in North Bay Tuesday for a reception with the board of Nipissing Serenity Hospice, where he spoke of the reason behind the walk; his father, Ted, who passed away from lung cancer in January.
“My dad was a very outdoorsy person. If you visit our home it’s like a garden, like a park there. He was always an outdoors person.”
The walk idea started when his dad was still alive, with Ian going travelling around taking pictures of parks and then sending them to his dad.
“I visited two hundred parks in two hundred days. That’s kind of where the idea was born.”
“This walk was about doing something on a grand scale to honour my father’s life and to say thank you to the people that took care of us and my dad.”
Bos's life is wrapped up in this fifty pound backpack.
For the Serenity Hospice, Bos’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time.
Mathilde Gravelle Bazinet, the Nipissing Serenity Hospice board chair, says her group is just about ready, with only the announcement of a location pending.
“We have our designs, we have people lined up to make significant donations for the building, and we really have the support of the community.”
That support includes a petition with over 33 hundred names, which calls on the province to choose the home themed hospice rather than a hospital based hospice.
Gravelle Bazinet says she thinks area residents have spoken loud and clear.
“People do not want it to be in a hospital setting. That is what is stated in the petition.”
Bos is happy at least someone is opening up the conversation about proper end of life care.
“I think as a society we try and avoid the conversation of death. But I think if we actually start to have a conversation about it, you can have a better life by preparing for death.”
After the reception, it was time for Bos to pick up his fifty pound packsack, and head out towards Sturgeon Falls, joined for at least part of the journey by some local supporters.
And if there’s one thing you learn on a cross-Canada walk in the summer?
Ian had three words.
“I Hate bugs”