Ernie Sievewright and his wife Kay chose doctor assisted death in January. His story will remain with me forever. (Citizen file)

Column: Ernie’s story remains in my heart

Ernie made Bill C-14 into something profoundly human.

Putting together the year in review is always and interesting experience.

It involves going back and scanning through every edition we’ve put out since January. For starters, the stack looks pretty intimidating. How have we produced this much out of our little newsroom in a mere 12 months?

It’s also interesting to look at it again as history (though recent, of course) from the vantage point of months afterwards. Looking at it from this historical perspective, there are always some instances where I would have done something differently in terms of what made the front page and what got shorter shrift. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that it was impossible in the moment to realize that an item would blow up, or on the other side, end up largely irrelevant.

When I do this year-end perusal, I’m always impressed, too, with the quality of work by the reporters we’re lucky to have here on staff. It never fails, I always rediscover photos and stories that jump off the page and remind me why I got into the local news business.

In 2017 this was particularly true of a story we did all the way back in January. A month or so beforehand I got a phone call from a gentleman named Ernie Sievewright from Crofton. He had, he said, a story we might be interested in. I get many phone calls that begin in this fashion. Some yield gold and some…do not. Ernie’s story, though, this one was truly special and I immediately got reporter Robert Barron in the loop, even though we couldn’t do anything with it for at least several weeks, at Ernie’s request.

You see, Ernie and his wife Kay were struggling through the bureaucracy so that they could have a doctor assist them in dying, under Canada’s new assisted dying rules. Both suffered from debilitating ailments that had robbed them of quality of life. But Ernie also wanted their story to be public. It is important, he told me, that people understand what the new legislation means to real people such as him and Kay, and its limitations (the two were not allowed to go together).

Ernie made Bill C-14 into something profoundly human. It’s not something just for discussion in far-off Ottawa in the House of Commons (though there is certainly still discussion that needs to happen — it remains entirely inadequate for those with degenerative conditions, for example). It is a conversation for right here and for everywhere else, too.

His is a story I will never forget. Goodbye Ernie.

Just Posted

Huge demand for spot prawns, limited supply for Cowichan

Most of the more than 200 boats harvesting spot prawns freeze their catch and ship it away.

Andrea Rondeau column: Positives on the environmental front

Does hearten me so many people concerned about future of environment they’re taking it to the polls.

Bantam B Thunder win a wild one

Cowichan comes home with gold from inaugural Comox tournament

Sarah Simpson Column: Airing out my dirty laundry

Last week I visited Mill Bay resident Judy van der Boom to… Continue reading

Snyder comes up big as Tigers mercy Red Sox

Pitcher clobbers a dinger to lock up mercy win

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

B.C. ferry stops to let bear swim past

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read