The holidays are normally a cheerful time of year for celebration with our family and friends. For those who have lost a loved one, the holiday season can be an especially difficult time of year. Each December, the Yee Hong Peter K. Kwok Hospice hosts an annual Love & Light Ceremony to remember and celebrate the lives of our loved ones who are no longer with us. This year marks our third annual Love & Light Ceremony, and our Hospice’s second anniversary.

Since the Yee Hong Hospice first opened its doors in 2020, we have provided compassionate, dignified and person-centred end-of-life care to nearly 250 individuals of diverse backgrounds in and around the Scarborough community. We have also supported family members experiencing grief and loss with our range of in-person and virtual bereavement programs and services.

I am humbled as I think of all the community members our Hospice has supported. It is a privilege to provide a tranquil, peaceful and home-like environment for individuals at the last leg of life’s journey, and support their family members during grief and loss. As I reflect, I also think of the significant unmet needs in our community. Most Canadians want to die at home, but only 15% of Canadians who died in 2016-17 received publicly funded palliative care in their home, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

As the only hospice in Scarborough that can accommodate up to 10 residents at a time, our Hospice and other palliative services provided by partners in our community cannot adequately meet the needs. People living in Scarborough deserve more community-based and financially accessible palliative supports. Moreover, we must invest in culturally appropriate, person-centred end-of-life care. Everyone experiences death and dying differently, and our culture plays a big part in shaping these experiences.

Culture includes religion and spirituality, and it is deeply intertwined with our attitudes and values. Providing culturally appropriate palliative care goes beyond meeting the individual’s language and dietary needs – it means honouring what people want during their last days. Our culture influences whether and how we seek and accept palliative care including pain medication, and our rituals at the end of life including our family’s role during the dying process.

Everyone deserves dignified and compassionate care at the end of life regardless of their background, culture, religion and socioeconomic status. That’s why our Hospice services are provided at no cost to ensure no one is denied end-of-life and palliative care due to their financial circumstances. However, our Hospice isn’t fully funded by government – we must raise more than $500,000 each year to continue providing our services at no cost. Yee Hong actively advocates for increased funding for culturally appropriate palliative care, but we can’t do it alone. The hospice relies on the support of our community members and partners to continue providing high quality, person-centred end-of-life care.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can support our Hospice, please feel free to connect with our Hospice’s Executive Director, Nazira Jaffer at or 416-412-4571 ext. 5120.