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B.C. woman behind 'dystopian' commercial found 'death care' easier than health care


A Metro Vancouver woman who garnered national attention earlier this year is doing so again, posthumously, in a "disturbing" viral video that has prompted fierce criticism of a Canadian department store.

The short film, titled “All is Beauty” was posted to YouTube by Simons and also appeared as shorter commercials. In it, a woman is seen surrounded by people on a beach, in a candle-lit forest, and in other settings with costumed dancers and illuminated fantastical creatures that depict a dream-like summary of a woman’s final days.

“Even now, as I seek help to end my life, with all the pain, and in these final moments, there is still so much beauty,” says Jennyfer Hatch in the unsettling film, which is visually striking and appears more like an art film than a commercial.

Now that she has died, CTV News can reveal that she is the same woman who spoke to us in June about her struggles to find treatment for a rare and complex connective tissue disease, prompting her to seek Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) as a last-ditch effort for palliative care.

Hatch asked us to use the pseudonym "Kat" as she described chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms for which she found insufficient support in B.C.’s health-care system, despite battling for years, whereas a MAID application was approved within weeks. 

Hatch was emaciated by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and other complications when she died in October at age 37.


The Simons film makes no reference to her decade-long illness, nor her struggles accessing support from Fraser Health. One of her closest friends explained that despite her speaking up, palliative care and other help were not offered, and Hatch made peace with her decision to choose the time and setting of her death.

“Her choice is not everybody’s choice and she really deeply respected (that) Medical Assistance in Dying is not for everyone," said Tama Recker on Tuesday, days after Hatch’s memorial service.

"What she hoped that it would do is push the envelope that people could understand that it was her choice,” Recker said. “Our (health-care) system is very broken and part of what Jennyfer wanted to do is get people talking. It wasn’t about glamourizing or promoting anything except telling her story that then could be a vehicle for others to have these very difficult conversations.”

Recker helped make arrangements with the production company that made the film. It was shot with Hatch’s close friends in Tofino over the summer after discussions with Simons, which posted a companion video linked to the short film to try and explain why they made it.

“Our hearts are in the right place,” said Peter Simons, the company’s chief merchant, who made rambling comments about the need for human connection, home and optimism.

“We sincerely believe that companies have a responsibility to participate in communities and to help build the communities we want to live in tomorrow.”

He spoke of “hard beauty,” but made no reference to the health-care system or social supports Hatch and other chronically ill people struggle to find. CTV News asked to speak with Simons directly, but was told he was unavailable.

The short film – which had more than one million views – and Simons’ explanation were removed from YouTube on Wednesday, and a public relations company said the campaign had “come to an end this week.” This coincided with right-wing American interest in the film, which some are describing as “promoting” euthanasia.


The story of “Kat” galvanized Canada’s disabled community at a time when the federal government is discussing the expansion of MAID, which already allows people in physical pain but without a terminal diagnosis to end their life with a the help of medical professional.

Two vocal critics of MAID expansion were surprised to learn the woman in Simons film was the same “Kat” from B.C. who had spoken up about seeking “death care” earlier in the year.

“I would call it a dystopian display of romanticizing death as a relief of suffering without any context around it, without any clarification about what's happening,” said Trudo Lemmens, a University of Toronto bioethicist.

“It makes it even more disturbing that we see a one-sided story of a very complex issue that is being exploited to show somewhat the progressive nature of a company.”

Lemmens is glad that the film is prompting discussion and attention on Canada’s euthanasia laws, but troubled that there isn’t discussion of poverty and the gaps in funding and health care – rather than terminal diagnosis – that are leading some to consider MAID.

“With too many stories of people who died by MAID, we sanitize their story because we don't want to think of their suffering,” pointed out Catherine Frazee, a member of the Disability Filibuster and professor emerita of the School of Disability Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University.

“In the end, the video serves as kind of a distraction to take away criticism for what went wrong, for the injustices – the poverty, the deprivations, the struggle.”

Recker emphasized that Hatch had lived her life finding the beauty in everyday things and that it was profoundly meaningful for her to leave a “legacy piece” that she saw as a gift. Frazee was also glad that Hatch was able to participate in something meaningful, even as she was giving up.

“The film in itself is done very artistically, very beautiful,” she said. “I’m happy for Kat that at least in the final few days of her life she was provided with some dignity and some restoration of her whole person and some recognition of who she was.” Top Stories

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