UBC shouldn’t cede to superstition

‘Bad luck’ hospice should be built as planned


“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” By that logic, a society that chooses to shun its sick and dying is not worthy of exaltation. I think I can hear Gandhi rolling in his grave.

Residents of a condominium on the University of British Columbia campus are protesting plans to build a 15-bed palliative care unit next to their building. According to resident Janet Fan, “Eighty per cent of the residents in this building are Asian, and 100 per cent of them are very upset.” Fan says that condo-dwellers are worried that the hospice will bring “ghosts” and “bad luck.” “In Chinese culture, we are against having dying people in your backyard,” she told CBC News. “We cannot accept this. It’s against our belief, against our culture. It’s not culturally sensitive.” Residents of the condo have organized a petition and building plans have now been put on hold.

The fact that UBC is considering these claims is nothing short of preposterous. The functioning of any city, province, democratic country, is dependent on an unyielding separation from religious and/or cultural pressure. Simply put, you can’t run a society based on ghost stories. Community resistance to certain new facilities is not new, but usually arise when some sort of tangible threat is posed; a halfway house is proposed, a registered sex offender moves into the area, a rehab centre opens. But this case is unique in that a material threat isn’t readily apparent. In any case, the claim that the plans for the hospice is “not culturally sensitive” should be immediately dismissed.  It holds no more validity than would a claim, for example, by a homeowner saying it is against his “cultural values” to have a homosexual couple move next door. We can’t start looking to religious texts to format property laws.

As well, even though Fan refers to the intended site of the hospice as her “backyard,” it is certainly not. Owned by the university, residents took a risk when purchasing property with nearby vacant space. Perhaps the one tangible danger posed to these condo-dwellers is declining property values if the hospice is indeed built. After all, how is a million-dollar unit to keep its value when a cultural taboo moves into the neighborhood?  Still, I would hope if money was the real issue, which it appears (at least on the surface) it is not, it wouldn’t be shielded by a guise of cultural concern.

It’s also important to consider the immersive value offered to our society by hospices and hospice workers. Many people who have set foot in palliative care units can attest to the concept that they are very much centres for the living, even though by definition, they are where people go to die. They offer havens for families who can no longer care for loved ones, and indeed, places for the sick and dying to go when cultural taboos consider it “bad luck” to keep those near death in the home. UBC is not proposing a cemetery be built next to the condo, but a home for people still living. It will say something profound about our attitudes towards the critically ill if we decide they must be sequestered. Superstition shouldn’t stand in the way of the new hospice at UBC.


UBC shouldn’t cede to superstition

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  2. Seriously though, this has nothing to do with ‘cultural’, or ‘belief’, or any other excuses Fan was trying to tell us. The real reason is she and her neighbour think the hospice will lower their property value.

  3. Well, I assume people die at the UBC Hospital on a regular basis. And said hospital has been at UBC decades longer than any of the condos. Objection dismissed.

  4. This would be the same if I went to China and demanded to build a Hospice. I would get to understand their culture as I am sure they will demand it.I would respect that because I am in THEIR Country and is proper to show total respect for the country you go to.As Canadians it is also our right to respect the dieing in our traditional way on our traditional land.

  5. Darn right – it’s property values. Who would begrudge someone from dying in such a place as a hospice. As a Hospice Volunteer, fundraising for hospices in the last few town in which we have lived, this is a shameful attitude. Surely not one based on a culture in which elders are respected and cared for at home.

  6. The people dying in this hospice would be the people who helped build this country, the people who made Canada the desirable, safe, and caring nation for these condo residents to migrate to. This behaviour is outrageous and shameful!

  7. As a Chinese Canadian born in Canada, I’m bloody ashamed that these people even have the nerve to protest against the hospice. It’s very sad to see that these unfortunate few are giving Asian Canadians a bad name. Many Asian Canadians who are perfectly comfortable dealing with death. Build the hospice as planned, and these greedy people should learn to appreciate that we live in a society that embraces FREEDOM and CHOICE, not real estate values.

  8. Greed and selfishness are the only motives behind those “Cultural Tatoo”. As a Chinese with Confucious and Buddist background, I know there is NO such a culture avoiding dying or sick people, let alone so called bringing “ghosts” and “bad luck”. So don’t let those dwellers ruin our rich culture. They cannot represent Asian or Chinese as a whole.

  9. I feel compelled to put my two cents worth on this one. First of all, I’m of Chinese origin so anything I have to say here will have no bias against the Chinese race whatsoever.

    All the reasons that have been brought up by the property owners are just red herrings. The bottom line here is all about property value. The ‘cultural” factor is just a convenient excuse but the collateral damage to the rest of the Chinese community cannot be underestimated.

    To those folks who are worried about the potential drop in their investments there’s a very simple solution: MOVE! Then again, one can never be sure that someone who’s just as rich as you are may want to buy a unit right next ot yours for his/her elderly parents. BTW, these same folks who’re worried about “bad luck” may want to stay away from the Chinese shopping district in Richmond. All the Chinese malls are located around the funeral home on Cambie road. Businesses there appear to be booming notwithstanding the proximity to such a premise.

    Please don’t abuse the “cultural” factor just for your own selfish gains. If you want to bring your values with you from the mainland then you should also bring over the the ways things are conducted in China. I can assure you that the Chinese government, Municipal or otherwise, will not have a public hearing before something is bulit.

  10. If this will definitely make the property price drop as all predict here, it is pointless to build it over there. This is built at the expense of the owners of Promontory and it seems that the people have the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune. This is very bad and affects the harmony of the society. Sales, in terms of quantity and price, of first hand flats/town houses at South Campus will be affected. This will directly or indirectly affect UBC as the potential buyers worry another hospice will be built in the area.

  11. It is about our Canadian values and our loved ones’ right to die in dignified comfort.

    Before you continue with your propaganda for the selfish and cold-hearted condo owners, check out the Chinese forums where several big shot owners were bickering and throwing insults at netizens for refusing to join in their protest. One even went as far as despising the house poor, because her Promontory condo is only a tiny fraction of her entire real estate portfolio in Metro Vancouver.

  12. It is crazy to keep a tree( a hospice at Hawthorn Place) by losing the whole forest( income from the sales of land to developers at South Campus). That means first hand sales, in terms of quantities and price of apartments or town house, at the South Campus will be plummeted and UBC income will be directly or indirectly affected. This is attributed to the potential buyers worry about another hospice(s) might be built in the neighbourhood area.

  13. Check the poll results

    Do you agree with the construction of UBC St Johns Hospice on the proposed location

    Agreed = 53.8%
    Opposed = 31.01%
    spoilt votes = 15.19%

    Most of those opposing cited racial unity, and them against the western culture. Sad. These people continue to hide their greed under the banners of falsehood. And they continue to take liberty at the expense of the Chinese Canadians, who have a long history in Canada, through misrepresentation.

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