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The Mystery of the Canadian “dignityindeath.com” Park Bench Plaques Solved!
By Richard N. Cote

In November 2009, memorial plaques dedicated to the lives of three people who had died distressing deaths from terminal illnesses started to appear on park benches in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The sponsor of the plaques was “dignityindeath.com,” a group I had never heard of. After contacting leaders of major pro- and anti-euthanasia groups for information about the group, I found that no one else had ever heard of them, either. Hmmm. A mystery!

Their website is both elegant and restrained in its graphic design. However its home page consists solely of a statement of belief in the right to die as a personal choice and civil right. From there, links take the reader to other sites describing living wills and right-to-die groups. Period. The site does not solicit memberships or money. No officers or staff are listed, and the only contact information is a generic email address. However, the site credits its designer, The Cundari Group, a Toronto advertising company.

Today I interviewed the plaque project’s art director, Andy McKay, a friendly Brit. He and his creative partner at Cundari, Andy Manson, had been profoundly moved by “bad deaths” within their own circles of friends and family. Both had lost parents, and wanted to spread awareness of living wills and Canadian death-with-dignity groups. As a break from designing corporate websites, they created this public awareness project, which is not affiliated with any established right-to-die group or organization. First they commissioned three brass plaques, each bearing the story of a fictional person and his or her fictional death scenario. Then they used PhotoShop to create inexpensive plastic replica stickers, fifty or sixty of which they placed on Toronto park benches.

The project is ongoing, McKay said, and is a way to use their professional skills to spread awareness in Canada of living wills and the right to die. It is not an attempt to start any kind of “organization” or to solicit any money for any reason. “It’s just a personal conviction of ours,” McKay said. We paid for it out of our own pockets.” Two of the “plaques” may be viewed at http://www.boingboing.net/2009/12/09/ad-campaign-for-pro-.html and at http://adsoftheworld.com/media/ambient/dignity_in_death_rosa_maria
From :Richard N. Cote’ / dickcote@earthlink.net / www.insearchofgentledeath.com

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