Carol Hird

Carol Hird

Monday, July 15th, 1946 - Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
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"To the warm and loving people in my life" May 5, 2020 message about Carol Hird's passing

I am sending very sad news about our Carol.

As many of you know, Carol has been fighting ovarian cancer for over four years. Various treatments showed some promise over the years. However, in recent times they no longer worked and she was in palliative care, living at home. Carol passed in the North Shore Hospice on Wednesday evening, April 29th. I was with her, by her side and holding her, as she passed.

Carol leaves behind her stepdaughter Leora Gibson, our son-in-law Trent Gibson, our three grandchildren (Maeve, Torsten, Ella), our loving family in England and Canada, and so many great friends, many of whom have sent condolences and messages of appreciation about what Carol meant to them.

This is heartbreaking news, I know, that I must share with her family and loving friends. There are so many people to contact. Please know that I can picture everyone who is receiving this message from me on her cancer journey blog.

Carol and I were together for over 34 years. We became sweethearts in November 1985.
We had much in common: a passion for education, music, travel, teaching, friendships, and helping people. And more, much more. We took it slowly and as our romance developed we realized that we wanted to make a life together, to leave our single statuses well behind and become a team. Carol was so accomplished, so talented, and also so humble. Of course, she was beautiful and loving.

Early on, at times, I must have thought that she was too good to be true. But then I appreciated that, with her work, including thousands of hours of volunteer work and advocacy on top of her professional work, that this marvellous, talented, giving woman thrived on helping others and advancing health care. Carol believed in evidence-based practice. She would often ask "where's your evidence?" to detractors of midwifery and she worked in venues large and small to advance the interests of midwives and to promote maternal and infant well-being globally. I can only touch on some of Carol's background and accomplishments in today's blog message.

Carol was born in Hull, Yorkshire on July 15, 1946. She was the eldest of five children. Carol completed courses of study in midwifery and nursing in England and worked as a midwife before emigrating to Canada in 1972. Carol worked in Fort Churchill before moving to Edmonton and eventually to Vancouver. She was a champion and leader of the Midwives Association of BC for many years and served on the executive of the International Confederation of Midwives for nine years. In 1993, during the ICM triennial congress in Vancouver, Carol was President of the ICM and vice-president of the MABC. She and thousands of delegates were moved by the announcement from the then-Minister of Health that steps would be taken to establish professional midwifery in British Columbia. Carol was a true leader and deeply involved with many others who lobbied successfully for the recognition of professional midwifery and its establishment in Canada.

She received her MA in Midwifery Practice from Thames Valley University, London in 1996. In 2005, she was honoured by the MABC with a certificate of honourary membership "for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of midwifery in BC especially for achievements with the Int'l symposium in 1993." Carol received the 2009 North Shore Health Care Award Award for outstanding achievement in leadership. Carol's contributions as a clinician, teacher, administrator, nurse, advocate and leader in the midwifery movement resulted in awards and accolades, but I believe she was even more touched by the hundreds and hundreds of thank-yous and touch bases from the people who knew her. She completely adored her family in England and Canada. At this time when people are so deeply saddened it helps to know that Carol is completely beloved and appreciated.

Well before her cancer diagnosis, we became an "every step of the way" couple. Last week, when Carol continued to struggle and to do her best to stay at home, in self-isolation with me and in touch with health providers by phone and email, she said that I was "her strength and stay". Early on I knew that I was "a lucky guy" to be with Carol, that I was fortunate beyond words to have her become the love of my life. I can attest to her courage and how she kept to her daily resolution to "get up, dress up, and show up."

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has loved Carol and to the many people who have helped her through her cancer journey. Some of these people include her wonderful oncologist, the "earth angel" nurses in the chemotherapy clinic in Lions Gate Hospital, various consultants, scores of people who she worked with, many people who encouraged us and hoped that Carol would be one of the "100 percent Club" whose cancer went into remission. She thrived and took heart in what she called the "jetstream" of love and support from our family and from all of you throughout this struggle with cancer.

I feel huge appreciation for the people who are helping me come to terms with what Carol and I most feared: a time without one another. She feels very much present every day. She will be cherished for all my life and all our lives. There will be a formal celebration of Carol's life at some point but not at this time of pandemic when we can't touch one another or come close.

Tuesday, May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife. The theme for the International Confederation of Midwives 2020 campaign is "celebrate, demonstrate, mobilise, unite - our time is NOW!" And I think that this captures the way all of us we will remember Carol. Our Carol.
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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Carol
29 trees have been planted in memory of Carol Hird

Helen and David Rawdon

Posted at 05:13pm
Brian, the love you shared with Carol in life, can not be severed by death. May you find peace through her nearer presence now and for ever.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Carol Hird — Plant a Tree Now

Deb McVittie

Posted at 01:41pm
Such a lovely, interesting, interested, delightful human being! Carol will be sorely missed by myself and all of the 32 Books & Gallery staff. She always came through the door with a twinkle in her eye and inevitably we ended up in a conversation that took unplanned turns and left me thinking long after she'd left the shop. Carol was so knowledgeable about so many things and I always admired her passion for her profession but also for life iteself which shone through her words and laughter. She had such a wonderful laugh. I will think of her often and feel so very fortunate to have known her for these past fifteen years. xo Deb McVittie

Jes Hinz

Posted at 10:08pm
It is hard to describe my immense sorrow to learn about the sudden passing of Carol. I had spoken to Carol over Facebook video chat just a few weeks prior, and she was smiling and bright as always.
I was lucky to have been paired up with Dr Burtch at Simon Fraser University, working as his teacher's assistant. This is how I met Carol, who ended up being one half of my Vancouver parents (as my parents live 8 hours away in the Kootenays). When my car had a flat tire and I didn't know what to do, Dr B and Carol were the first people I thought to call. When I had a heartbreaking breakup with my longterm boyfriend, the first couch I cried on was at Dr B and Carol's home in North Vancouver. Carol was a shoulder to cry on, and one that gave me such good advice. They made me a care package, complete with some Rescue Remedy and aromatherapy blend I religiously kept in my backpack as I navigated through my sorrow. There was always an open door at their house, and a glass of wine and tea ready for me.
When I defended my master's thesis, I was lucky enough to have Dr Burtch and Carol attend (with Dr Burtch chairing my defense). My parents weren't able to travel to Burnaby for the occassion, and I honestly probably would have ran for the hills if it wasn't for the presence of my Vancouver parents. Carol sat across from me to the left of my supervisors. If it hadn't been for her smiling the whole way through, I might have fainted midway through. Just having a friendly and calming face in the room helped me get through my presentation.
It was always such a pleasure to talk with Carol. Any topic in mind, from current events, to the latest tennis match, to book, movie or travel recommendations. I'm convinced she could join any conversation with anyone and have something lovely to say. Conversation just flowed so naturally with Carol. And although she was so accomplished in her field, she never once made me feel inferior or try to confuse me with medical jargon or lingo. I think she could simply tell from the expression on my face whether or not she needed to elaborate.
Carol was warm, friendly, kind, compassionate, intuitive, beautiful and strong. She is such a role model to me. A beacon of love, kindness and compassion wherever she went. She will be terribly missed. My condolences to Dr Burtch, the Gibsons, the rest of her family, friends, and all who loved her.

Brian Burtch

Posted at 03:16pm
A warm thank you to Mel Mundell for confirming that the following condolences and messages from midwives in BC can be posted on Carol's Memory Page. It is heartwarming to hear from so many people who were taught by Carol, who worked side by side with her, or who were inspired by her efforts to secure recognition for midwives in Canada and to promote safe motherhood initiatives worldwide.

Tomorrow (May 26) is our wedding anniversary. Please join me in raising a glass in honour of Our Carol.
Brian Burtch
May 25, 2020


In Memory of Carol Hird: Messages from Midwives

#2–175 East 15th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V5T 2P6 | T 604 736 5976 | F 604 736 5957

I send this message to you all with sadness in my heart. A great midwife, teacher, advocate, leader and midwifery “Rock Star” has left us. Carol Hird inspired many of us who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Kim Campbell, RM MN Instructor Midwifery Program, Dept of Family Practice

I did not meet her personally but it was through learning about her and through reading her husband's book, The Trials of Labour: The Re-emergence of Midwifery, that I found Midwifery. She helped to spark a fire within me to passionately advocate for midwifery and midwifery care. I am so grateful to her.
What an immense loss for her family and for the midwifery community.
Sending love to her friends and family,
Lisa Sutherland, RM, IBCLC Midwifery Lead, Prevention and Primary Care Perinatal Services BC

I, too, send condolences to Carol's family. I remember her boundless energy and enthusiasm and also her sense of humour. She was, and is, an inspiration.
Ilene Bell, RM MABC Professional Practice Lead

Hello Kim and all: Appreciate you sharing this. Besides inspiring many of us, Carol is one of BC midwifery leaders that contributed to the establishment of regulated BC.
I am sad for Brian’s loss and that we had little opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate with Carol the contribution that she and her family made toward our profession.
I appreciated the photos, agree with Brian that the theme for the International Confederation of Midwives 2020 campaign "celebrate, demonstrate, mobilize, unite - our time is NOW...” are words that capture Carol’s compassionate, egalitarian, optimistic and mindful nature. May she rest in Peace and may we continue on in solidarity. She certainly inspired me.
My condolence to Brian, family and all that knew Carol well.
Kind regards:
Vera Berard, RM

Sad to hear of Carol’s passing. A wonderful woman who was a true leader in the work to legalize and implement midwifery in the province. Among her many other accomplishments and with personal risk to herself she supported many of us “lay midwives” in the 80’s in furthering our education by being an Instructor in the “underground" midwifery school which enabled many us to gain our Washington State licenses so we could say we were licensed somewhere. At the time it was illegal to teach midwifery in the province. Thank you, Carol for your enormous compassionate and giving spirit. You will be dearly missed.
Jeanne Lyons, RM

We are saddened to learn of the passing of such a warm, loving and eloquent midwife leader and nurse, Carol Hird. She had a 5 year struggle with ovarian cancer as part of her life’s journey.
Carol received her education in nursing and midwifery and became a well respected midwifery tutor in England. She had a well-rounded career in the UK, in Northern Canada and on the West Coast here in British Columbia. Her goal was always to bring legalized midwifery to all the provinces in Canada. She bridged the gap between the medical personnel and the community midwives in true Carol style. One of her huge accomplishments was that she was instrumental in helping to establish a 3 year private midwifery education program in the lower mainland in the 80s.

Her dedication to working toward establishing the profession of midwifery ranged from her 9 years of work on the board of the International Congress of Midwives (ICM) including being the president for a 3 year term and hosting the ICM in Vancouver in 1993 in a country where midwifery was not yet formally recognized or integrated. It was at that conference where BC’s Health Minister, Elizabeth Cull, announced the government’s intent to legalize the profession of midwifery. Carol was among the first midwives to be registered in 1998 and practiced in Vancouver. We will all miss her and our condolences go out to her husband, Brian, family, friends and colleagues. We love you and RIP Carol.
Both Carol and Brian love music and this is a great song for them:

Deb Little, RM and Barbara Ray, RM

Thank you, Kim & Mel for sharing Brian's message and letting us know about Carol's passing.

I was so lucky to have Carol as my first midwifery partner when I first started practicing at The Midwifery Group in the year 2000, at the tender age of 24. We were a team of two at The Midwifery Group (the practice I now am co-director of).
Carol was such a force! She was deeply committed to her craft as a midwife and gave so much to her clients. She and her husband Brian were instrumental in helping midwifery become established in BC. Her tenacity, kindness and wisdom will forever be remembered.
My heart goes out to Brian and the family!
She will be missed. I will remember her fondly.
xoxoxo Andrea Brett, RM

I, too, join the large ranks of persons saddened by this news. I was fortunate enough to have been one of the long ago, not legally practicing, BC midwives who became a student of Carol’s during her brave and committed time with the 1980’s midwifery program. It was of this school that she was the Academic Director and essentially one of the major driving forces behind the School’s very existence. I, and indeed BC midwifery, owe SO VERY much to the courage and vision Carol exuded at a time when it was risky to do so. Though we never worked clinically together on a regular basis, the few times we did, her passion for this work and for the human beings involved in it shone through always, as it did even when she was merely recounting experiences involving pregnancy, birth, and new life.
Her care for people was evident in everything she did, from teaching students who in some cases had never had post-secondary education, to examining a newborn, to asking her colleagues, such as myself, how their families were doing when she had heard of some difficulty they were having. And the caring was ALWAYS genuine, as that was just how Carol was. And everything in her life was tempered so appropriately with just the right amount of humour, albeit British, which was so endearing and part of Carol’s charm and elegance. As far as elegance, I won’t even begin to mention her dinners and parties she hosted with Brian over the years.

Although I had not seen her for almost a year, I am grateful for one of the last visits we had at her home in North Van where she and I and another dear friend whose birth we had attended together spent time on her deck and later went for an extremely lovely walk in a gentle forest near her home. Here once again she just shone through with calm and serenity and appreciation for life. I am so privileged to have had that beautiful day with her.

She will be so missed. I am glad MABC encouraged honouring her on yesterday’s International Day of the Midwife. I, like many, paused throughout the day to remember her with warmth, fondness and appreciation for her time with us, even though right now it feels too short.

With heartfelt thoughts to all who knew her and especially to Brian and the rest of her family,

Camille Bush, RM

So sad to hear this. I was in the 2nd class of the illegal 'Fraser Valley School of Midwifery' in Vancouver. We were a sister of the Seattle Midwifery School that offered a 3 year direct entry program. Carol was our director along with Stan Howard, and she was also our head tutor and passionate leader and advocate for midwives and woman-centered childbirth. I have always felt so privileged to have been a part of that school and the amazing people who took huge personal risks to fight for legal midwifery. She leaves behind a legacy that changed childbirth in BC, Canada, and internationally forever.
Lani Wittmann, Senior Practice Leader at BC Women’s Hospital

Carol was one of the reasons that I became a Midwife. She taught a six week orientation course at Lion's Gate Hospital Labour and Delivery ward in 1990 when I worked there. As well as being a staff nurse, Carol taught Family studies at SFU and was president and founding member of the BC Midwives' Association and was busy organizing the the ICM. She seemed like a super woman. She even gave massages and pedicures on night shift. She and the other foreign-trained midwives that worked at LGH were hugely supportive and encouraged me to go to the UK to train to be a midwife. She will be very fondly remembered.
Anne McLeod Lawry, RM

Such a huge loss. Carol was an amazing force in the early days of midwifery here in BC. Much love to Brian and all of her family.
Luba Lyons, RM

A lovely person and amazing role model, she will be missed. My condolences to her family xox
Maggie Ramsay, RM

Rest in Peace Carol and thank you for all you have done for us midwives.
Andreia Situm, RM

Carol was one of a kind, a huge force for Midwifery in Canada. She was strong, undeterred by detractors and an all-around delight. Sending much love to family and friends.
Michele Buchmann, RM

Lynn Prestash

Posted at 01:24am
I will miss our cheery chats as we met here and there in the neighbourhood. Carol was a lovely and interesting person. Please accept condolences from the Prestash-Burns family.

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