On January 3, 2011, WF Marilyn Seguin Award winner Evelyn Martens, one of the founders of the Right to Die Society in Canada, who faced a two-year long battle with the law — and won — died on 3 January 2011 in hospital in British Columbia, from complications thought to be from a gall bladder infection. She was 79. Russell Ogden writes the story of Evelyn Martens.
By 1994 Evelyn was a Regional Advisor to the Right to Die Society of Canada. She later became membership director, provided member-support, and she participated actively in NuTech research for improved methods for self-deliverance.
Evelyn was a compassionate woman and believed nobody should have to die alone. Around 1997 she sat for the first time at the bedside of an individual who decided to end their suffering by a carefully planned suicide. When there was nobody else to support a dying person, Evelyn, ever the compassionate one, was there.
In 2002, at the age of 71, Evelyn was charged in the deaths of Monique Charest and Leyanne Burchell. She was the first and only right-to-die activist in Canada ever prosecuted for the offence of aiding suicide, and she faced a maximum penalty of 28 years in jail. In the small town of Duncan, BC, Evelyn stood strong through a preliminary inquiry that lasted from November 13, 2002 to June 12, 2003. The criminal trial started October 12, 2004. On November 4, 2004 a jury of 12 women and men found Evelyn not guilty.
Evelyn’s victory was celebrated by many Canadians who had come to see her as a caring hero with the courage to stand up for her convictions. Her solid legal defence by Catherine Tyhurst and Peter Firestone was funded by supporters from around the world who contributed to the Right to Die Society of Canada fundraising campaign. Evelyn Martens acquittal was significant because it clarified that mere compassionate presence at suicide is not a crime in Canada. In 2005 the Humanist Association of Canada awarded Evelyn Martens the prestigious title, Humanist of the Year.
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(thanks to Euthanewsia.ca)