Ellen Maud Bennett
BENNETT, Ellen Maud Daughter, sister and aunt, Ellen Maud Bennett who passed away aged 64 on May 11, 2018 was to most who met her an unforgettable character. The eldest of five siblings, she was forced to do everything first and report back to the rest. Born in Burin, Newfoundland she was a perpetually delighted transplant to Victoria B.C. This photo was taken one week before her death. She chose it for her obituary because as she said, "I look so good for someone almost dead!" Her brief time diagnosed with inoperable cancer gave her mere days to live. She chose to fill these days with humour, love, death bed edicts and exacting demands. These demands gave a grateful brother time to ship her fresh lobster from Nova Scotia, and others time to scour Victoria for every early blooming peony and source the perfect shrimp-wonton soup. (JJ Wonton.) Ellen was a creative soul. She was also an excellent student and attained a BA in Political Science and held a Masters in International Relations. Her first and last job in this arena was on Parliament Hill where she found the work too filled with paperwork and patronage. She quit to establish a popular vintage clothing store in Ottawa which eventually inspired her to pursue her real passion for Costume Design. A credential from Dalhousie University formalized a career filled with creativity. Ellen enjoyed a career in theatre (Stratford), television and film. Ellen was all about style and art directed her own life splendidly. Make up, fashion and home décor sustained her. A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat shaming she endured from the medical profession. Over the past few years of feeling unwell she sought out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss. Ellen's dying wish was that women of size make her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue. Please remember Ellen when you next read a great book, go to a play or buy a small object of stunning beauty. We've lost a remarkable woman. Ellen's family would like to extend our gratitude to the amazing team of angels at the Victoria Hospice who gave her the respect and kindness she needed and deserved. A celebration of Ellen's life will be held in August. Please email [email protected] for details.

Published by Victoria Times Colonist from Jul. 14 to Jul. 16, 2018.
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160 Entries
This past week I had a talk with nursing students at the University of Iceland about weight stigma in health care settings. I shared your life story and the way it ended and asked the students to remember you and help me keep your memory alive.

Thank you for your courage and spirit. It will not be forgotten. And my deepest condolences to your loved ones.
January 25, 2021
Thanks for sharing your story, Ellen.
Alex Sitarik
March 4, 2019
Ellen, I am glad you had the final say and am saddened by your death. For 25 years doctors blamed all my complaints on weight too, before my chronic rare cancers advanced enough to finally be diagnosed and explain the weight along with everything else. I endorse your message and pray you know peace.
Linda Harris
December 14, 2018
I'm so sorry for y'alls loss. Y'all are in my prayers.
November 26, 2018
She will be missed
Susan Nance
September 29, 2018
I too had a very serious cancer blown off because 1) I am overweight, 2) I was in the "right age range" for menopause and 3) because the Dr. I was seeing didn't truly "see" me. I changed Dr.s and my life was saved. I had stage 3 Endometrial cancer and it was aggressive and moving fast. I am heartbroken that your daughter/sister/aunt was not heard. I am furious that another women has died from the fat shaming that does occur daily. I pray that her obituary goes completely viral and that many doctors actually read it. I am so very very sorry for your great loss. I am sure had I known her we would have been great friends as she sounds like a wonderful and fun person. You all have my deepest sympathy.
Donna Segelquist
September 29, 2018
September 2, 2018
To Ellen's Family: Ellen and I lost contact over the last few years but I will always consider her a good friend. We shared many, many days of laughter , fun and exhaustion on movie sets. I will always remember her love of beautiful things. She had such a flair for fashion and was one of the most creative people i know. I am sure she is redesigning a beautiful home for in heaven as she waits for her friends and family to join. Love to you all.
Kathleen Gilbert
August 30, 2018
May you rest in peace and my deepest sympathy to all your family, I will meet you soon up there as me and my weight are fighting with doctors that dont see pass the weight. Just as if it was my belly what was covering their eyes and poor bedside manner.
Tammy Matthews
August 13, 2018
Such a beautiful woman and life. Prayers and blessings to the family.
August 11, 2018
August 10, 2018
August 9, 2018
So sorry to hear about you. I am a plus size women and doctors do emphasize the weight.
May you rest in peace love and light
August 8, 2018
What a beautiful woman, gone too soon.
Betty Smith
August 7, 2018
Rest in Peace, Ellen, may GOD help you Shine as an Angel. Take your wings and fly high and PROUD. GOD BLESS.
August 6, 2018
shaming should not be part of a physician's diagnostic repertoire. Ellen,your story breaks my heart and shakes me to the soul.
Katrina AlyssaZhang
August 6, 2018
August 6, 2018
God bless Ellen. You sound like somebody I would have been friends with. A lot of doctors don't care about helping people any more. May you rest in peace in heaven. Thank you for telling your story. Prayers to your family and friends.
Kari Martinez
August 6, 2018
So sorry of her passing. I read of her obituary on facebook. Even more sorrow that she endured such rejection by the medical profession. I believe she had more to give to our world.
Valerie Augustine
August 5, 2018
I also did not know Ellen but have read her obituary online. God bless her family wrap them in wings of comfort at this time. I will heed Ellen's advice and wish I had the opportunity to have met her. She sounds like she was a wonderful person. I am so sorry for your loss.
Debbie Leonardo
August 5, 2018
I did not know Ellen but read her story on the computer which truly touched my heart. Many people are too quick to judge others as we do not know their pain & suffering or medical conditions. Spread your wings & fly Ellen as another beautiful butterfly has been added to all the others. To her family & friends I am so sorry for your loss but be very proud she was a part of your heart as her memories will last a lifetime. Speak of her often of the times you shared & laughed together.
Jannette Anderson
August 4, 2018
Rest in Peace Ellen. I wish I had met you, you sounded a wonderful woman who will be sorely missed. I'm sure lots of us will take heed with your advice. Sending lots of love to you and your family xxx
Jeanette Gibbons
August 4, 2018
You were a very beautiful woman. I went through the same thing with my mom. It's disgraceful!I wish I could have met you! Your courage and grace tell me what kind of person you were. To your family and friends, I'm so sorry!
Peggy L.
August 3, 2018
What a tragedy to lose such a heart, such a personality, in a world sorely short of such iconic figures. EVERYONE should stand up to doctors who assume a single issue is always the source of symptoms! I lost a friend whose "medically intractable gastric ulcer" turned out to be metastatic stomach cancer that was never even checked for by a doc who said it was too much stress...for two solid years. WAKE UP YOUR MD!!! I hope Ellen rests in the glow of how many of us, even if we only heard of her now, admire her amazing attitude!
August 3, 2018
Dear Ellen in Heaven: you and I would have been fast friends should our paths have crossed. Your story breaks my heart and shakes me to the soul.

Unfortunately we walk the same path in terms of health issues. For the most part, not always mind you, my physicians take what I say seriously. In terms of diagnostics and blood work, I very rarely have an issue. If I do I have a method that usually works.

How and why? I am a retired medical professional. (not by choice, I'd rather be working in my profession).

When I visit any doctor I do so prepared. I always obtain copies of test results and commit them to memory. I obtain electronic copies of diagnostic imaging tests and review them in detail. Any issue that is mistaken or forgotten (and believe me there are lots) I address through the proper channel.

Do physicians mention my obesity during appointments, not so much anymore believe me I have bigger problems that affect my quality of life and likely length of time I have on this earth.

To others, become knowledgeable. Go online and read from reputable web sites. Print out articles and take them to your doctor. Be persistent but friendly. Make sure you indicate how your life is affected by your condition.
Kimberly G.
August 3, 2018
I'm going to put on my most beautiful dress this evening and drink and dance in celebration of this remarkable woman. I'm so pleased that I read her story and I am so pleased that her friends and family had her in their lives.
Life is never long enough.
Heather W
August 3, 2018
Thank you for you, Ellen! I will happily advocate on your behalf, for myself and others. What you said is true, and shaming should not be part of a physician's diagnostic repertoire.
Prayers for your family as they celebrate your abbreviated, yet impressive life!
Michele McMahon
August 3, 2018
Shame on doctors! I too get told to lose weight even if I go to dr for a sore throat , weight is all they see
Vicky Connell
August 3, 2018
As a woman of size every doctors appointment/practice nurse appointment is about my weight. Assuming I'm diabetic, and very little support, mentally or practically.

Ellen Maud Bennet you are an inspiration. Share the discrimination. RIP
Lynn Wallace
August 3, 2018
What a brave woman.
Beautiful, kind, creative soul.
STUNNING photograph ❤
Georgie P
August 3, 2018
Yes, I have gone through the same thing. I was told to loose weight and I had a tumor in my pancreas that was producing insulin rapidly and it was cancer. I came within a short time of dying. And now am diabetic with no spleen and just the head of my pancreas. Doctors take note you see an overweight person, find out what is wrong! Don't assume they sit and eat all day, if you ask questions you will find that overweight people are usually very energetic and eat healthy. R.I.P. Ellen your pic is beautiful.
August 2, 2018
Thank you for speaking out about the substandard or nonexistent care overweight people receive. I am just so sorry it had to be done through your obituary. I wish I could have known you and I wish the doctors would have listened to you. My thoughts are with your family.
Sunshine Drennon
August 2, 2018
How sad I am that I never had the privilege to meet this beautiful, articulate woman who possessed such obvious grace and dignity under the most horrific circumstances.
Christina Schneider
August 2, 2018
Dale Roberts
August 2, 2018
I am sorry for the loss of Ellen. She sounds truly remarkable. I work in healthcare and am shamed that the system fails so many because of factors that are uncontrollable to them. As an oncology rn, it is our duty to make sure each patient gets care, no matter their circumstances, and we should take each complaint seriously. I am sorry Ellen lost a battle that could have easily been avoided if someone would have opened their eyes and listened instead of looked at an exterior and judged instead. Hopefully the doctors practices have changed because of this. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Ellen.
August 2, 2018
RIP Ellen, I did not know you and im so very sorry those doctors did not listen to you I have also had doctors tell me to lose weight and I will be fine I hope by this it will help other women... Rest well in Heaven xxx
August 2, 2018
I admire your bravery and spunk! As I have lost so many dear to me with Misdiagnosis and also battling my weight my entire life, also as a costume designer myself, thank you for being you, until the very end! You do look amazing!
Prayers & comfort to your family in this difficult time. May you change the earth from heven!
You are a soul to be blessed!
August 2, 2018
She was right about that photo. What an awesome babe. I wish I had known her because she sounds like the best kind of fun. Last year I had a knee injury and no doctor, physio or Osteo seemed to hold any hope that my pain would lessen or my mobility improve, because of my fatness. It has improved enormously and now, even deep in the Southern Hemisphere winter, it's pretty good. They made me feel like my life was over. It was so depressing and I now know there were therapies that might have helped. They just couldn't be bothered. Fight back bambolinas.
Gabriela Hodson
August 2, 2018
I never personally knew Ellen, but she is an inspiration to me. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. She sounds like a remarkable lady. By sharing her story, she can hopefully help someone else. My love and prayers to her family.
Jen Gallegos
August 2, 2018
I have experienced fat shaming from doctors all my life. I have went through many illnesses because I didn't want to go to the doctor for my illness just to be told how fat I was. I am learning how to stand up for myself after years of being pushed around by the medical community. I am so sorry this happened to you. I admire your strength to speak out about this discrimination against people of size. Prayers for your family.
August 2, 2018
Go get em Ellen! I have chronic gout (hereditary)..when I was pregnant I gained 60 lbs. which doctors would scold me on eating "too many cookies"...After I gave birth I lost 35 lbs in 2 weeks...told the doctors...see? you all were wrong!
August 2, 2018
May you rest in peace Ellen.
Sandra S
August 2, 2018
A stunning light, gone.
Ellen, it seems you led a rich and vibrant life.
I am so sorry it was cut short.
My condolences to family and friends.
Sereana Malani
August 2, 2018
August 2, 2018
Ellen I am so sorry no one listened. My condolences. I am a women of Size also. I will stand up for myself from here on out. Thank you for sharing your story
Virginia Hodgdon
August 2, 2018
Thank you Ellen for speaking out for all of us. I wish I could have known you. Prayers and blessings to those who loved you.
Debbie Godwin
August 2, 2018
Thank you Ellen . I am sad to say my daughter has the same response from her Dr's . We will continue to fight for people to see how unfairly treated large people are by Dr's and others in the health care industry .You sould like you were so full of life and we shall not forget your message to us all . May you RIP and may your family know how blessed they were to have you in their lives . Blessed Be .
Mary Mead
August 2, 2018
Thank you Ellen! I did not know you personally but your obituary inspired me, a fellow woman of size, to stand up for myself and others against fat-shaming. I hope your family is comforted by your memory and by how much your experience is resonating with and inspiring other people.
Sarah Pearce
August 2, 2018
Thank you, Ellen for sharing your experience. My daughter had a similar experience. After many years, she ended up with two emergency surgeries, one to remove her gallbladder & one to remove a stone that had traveled. She now as a nurse & I having gone through that will now be stronger patient advocates, even for ourselves. You have left a positive influence and I hope you rest in peace. Blessings to your family.
Yolanda B
August 2, 2018
Thank you, thank you for the light you are shining! Your story reminds me of a long-ago co-worker who had the same issue. She also passed away from cancer, which should have been found earlier, but she said the docs always blamed any symptoms she presented with on "obesity". You sound sparkling in life, so shine on now, bright star!
Mary Helen Hutchins
August 2, 2018
RIP Ellen. I never met you but you are an inspiration of standing up against fat shaming. I have experienced this many times especially in Victoria + Vancouver, and agree we must first treat a person + their illness. We celebrate your beautiful courage + spirit to speak out + hope others take note + change their ways.
A Rafuse
August 2, 2018
Doctors see you and think your weight is the issue, never mind anything else that could be causing the weight gain..... And if a problem becomes too difficult to explain, its your weight!
Dawn Poole
August 2, 2018
I just read your obituary via the online blog Fat Heffalump. Thank you for sharing your art and your experience. For decades I was told to lose weight -even while I had an arrhythmia that required two different surgeries, and finally have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Falling asleep at my desk even without carbs -finally realized I have low stomach acid due to my weight loss surgery. Your words ring so true. You were not alone in this fight. We will continue to educate ourselves -and demand better from our medical community. Sending love to your family.
Sheila Holmes
August 2, 2018
rebecca Westling
August 2, 2018
I wrote a long response in the Guest Book last night. Upon reflection I realized that it was not appropriate, and you needed to celebrate the life and great gifts that Ellen embodied. I was a stranger in her life, but her obituary touched me deeply. It was not a time for me to discuss my own family's history as the focus of my writing but to celebrate the life of your dear one who has so recently been taken. I apologize again for talking about my mom's life instead of celebrating the many unique aspects of Ellen's personality.
Kathie Burlow
August 1, 2018
August 1, 2018
I think I would have liked to get the chance meet you, Ellen. Currently reading a book and keeping you in my thoughts.
Lucía Correia
August 1, 2018
I am deeply saddened to hear that medical indifference and lack of empathy caused your health concerns to be overlooked. I accept your challenge to be an advocate for others. Rest peacefully ... Know how desperately you are missed.
Bonnie Davies
August 1, 2018
What a kind, brave soul you were. Rest in peace, sweet lady.
Charlotte Perez
August 1, 2018
I will honor this woman by doing what she said! She has brought to light an issue that i thought I was only experiencing. Everything is because you are fat! Lose it and you will be fine! No more! I will honor her words. Advocate !!
Thank you dearest! May your soul soar to happy and non judgmental places. Beautiful Lady and family you have my prayers.
Nina Lyons
August 1, 2018
Though I never knew you I have only just read this obituary. I see you Ellen as an inspirational soul and know this world was definitely a better planet with you on it and now hopefully orbitting and sending your love and energy our way!
Diana Grant
August 1, 2018
I saw this on the news and it broke my heart. I'm not in the USA but in NZ. Sending my well wishes and condolences, I understand the fat shaming. I had it myself and got medically neglected,
Bec B
August 1, 2018
People like Ellen make the world brighter. Peace to her family.
Lisa Miranda
August 1, 2018
Though I was not blessed with the opportunity to know Ellen, I wish to pass along my condolences to her loved ones. I'm here because I read about her and the words of this obituary; both touched me deeply. The world is a better place because Ellen was a part of it and I wish comfort on her family and friends in this difficult time.
Skip Benash
August 1, 2018
August 1, 2018
August 1, 2018
So sorry to hear about the recent loss of your dearest Ellen. (I lived in Burin,Nfld,briefly in my youth.) I too share her interests in both politics and vintage clothing (the latter are true objects of beauty, while the former is usually not). While doing research for an AGE discrimination complaint, I came across the issue of WEIGHT discrimination, which is currently not a ground for discrimination in Human Rights legislation. Whether or not this issue affects one personally, we should all get together to advocate for its future inclusion in Canadian Human Rights law. Canadians, write your MPs in Ottawa. Let's make it happen, as part of Ellen's legacy. I will be composing my letter later on today!
A Cameron
August 1, 2018
August 1, 2018
Your life and your death mattered. Thank you for making our voices heard. Rest in peace love
Cynthia Johnson
August 1, 2018
I was remembering Ellen fondly a couple of weeks ago as I was dyeing a leather chair - one of the many skills she taught me not to be afraid of as a young apprentice at JV in Calgary in the early 90's. She was always so positive and full of stories of her much loved Sojo. So sorry to hear of her passing - and so proud of her too.
Susan Duska
August 1, 2018
I am sorry to hear about Ellen's passing. I didn't know her, but her thoughts on the medical professions bias towards overweight woman rang true. My mom passed in 2015 and often expressed some of the same sentiments to me about the medical profession and herself. I can't help but wonder that had my mom felt supported and loved by anyone in the medical profession that she might have diagnosed her condition sooner. My heart goes out to you and your family.
Noelle Nordstrom
August 1, 2018
My condolences to Ellen's family. We all hope to make a difference. The message in her obituary did just that.
Angela Ulrich
August 1, 2018
Sweet Ellen. I will indeed think if her each time I enjoy a book or demand adequate care by physicians despite my size. and rest easy
Dezerrae Houk
August 1, 2018
I never met Ellen but I will share her message What an inspiring woman,gone too soon. Condolences to family and friends R.I.P Ellie
Mary Anne Fenton
August 1, 2018
Dear Theresa and Family,

Just wanted to say how very sorry I am to hear of the sad passing of Ellen. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I knew your Mom, Mary Lou, and met your Dad and siblings Ann, Peter and John during my stay at your home in St. John's in 1977. Your Mom was a good, kind generous person and she often spoke of Ellen and all her children, and was very proud of each of you.
Carol Peckford
July 31, 2018
Dear Theresa and Family,

Just wanted to say how very sorry I am to hear of the sad passing of Ellen. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I knew your Mom, Mary Lou, and met your Dad and your siblings Ann, Peter and John during my stay at your home in St. John's in 1977. Your Mom was a good, kind generous person and she often spoke of Ellen and all her children, and was very proud of each of you.
Carol Peckford
July 31, 2018
Thank you for your message. I will remember it and pass it to my daughter. Congratulations for a life well lived. Blessings. <3
Kimberly Bolaños
July 31, 2018
You are amazing and have lit a fire that will not be extinguished any time soon. Thank you for advocating for yourself and for us. Your amazing legacy shall live on ❤
Tanya Rauls
July 31, 2018
Ellen,..your passion and zeal have encouraged me to keep pushing for better. We all deserve that! No doubt your message has been heard loud and clear! RIP
J Hartshorn
July 31, 2018
I did not know Ellen, but I surely wish I had had the pleasure!! She sounds so delightful and she was beautiful. I am so glad she spoke out against the shaming she endured and even though it was too late for her doctors to correct their behavior, maybe they will stop and think before doing so again.
July 31, 2018
Wendy Gilbertson
July 31, 2018
I did not know Ellen, but I wish I had. Her courage and strength shows through in her words. She deserved better. Fly with the Angels Ellen,
Roz Dixon
July 31, 2018
My sincere condolences. Ellen was a regular patron to the library I worked at for many years. She always had great stories and made me smile everytime she came in. She was very encouraging and engaging. She seemed to be the kind of person that lived making an impact on those around her. May you rest peacefully.
Nathan Pagan
July 31, 2018
Thank you for sharing this. She sounds like an amazing and lovely person who brought joy and light to the people around her. I wish she had more time and I hope this inspires people to advocate for their lives. If you don't do it. No one will.
Emma Jackson
July 31, 2018
The world is a lessor place without her. What a brave lady!
Jess P
July 31, 2018
I found Ellen through her message of fat shaming. What could have been, should have been for Ellen and her family is palpable. Ellen, fly high and proud. God bless all that loved her.
Tina Degner
July 31, 2018
I am so sorry for your loss. Ellen was obviously a beautiful soul! Thank you Ellen for your message about fat shaming. I blamed my own cancer on my weight when I was first diagnosed. Rest in peace.
Karen p
July 31, 2018
Beautiful lady inside & out RIP lovely lady wish I had the honor to have met Ellen
July 31, 2018
Ellen I just know if we had met we would have been great friends. Thank you for your words. Rest in peace, beautiful lady.
Danielle Robinson
July 31, 2018
Amazing and Courageous. Rest in Peace, Ellen. And, may we together start seeing each other as worthy, whatever our size, shape, colour or gender.
July 31, 2018
It is touching to read all these wonderful messages from strangers who have been touched by Ellie's sad and shocking story. I have the good fortune of having been Ellie's roommate when we were both at Carleton. She was a larger-than-life person ... smart, infuriatingly right many times, and just a heap of fun. I will treasure our times together. You were truly one of a kind.
Jane Christmas
July 31, 2018
God bless. I appreciate Ellen speaking out on this issue, we all deserve the same medical care regardless of our size. Thank-you.
Heather Gillespie
July 31, 2018
Rest peacefully Ellen may you be forever cradled in acceptance and love through eternity.
Heather Reid
July 31, 2018
What A Courageous Women. God Bless You Ellen
July 31, 2018
Thank you Ellen, for being a light.
Heather Ewing
July 31, 2018
Ellen was a special friend I met my first year as a stitcher at Stratford. Although we didn't see each other much, we stayed in touch when I ended up in Victoria. I really appreciated her support when I was changing careers. She will be missed.
Karla Stout
July 31, 2018
My sincere condolences on the loss of Ellen. She sounds like a very special person. The treatment she describes from her doctors fills me with anger. I, too, am fat, and have faced neglect and hostility from doctors that would be hard for me to believe, had I not experienced it myself. I find Ellen's dying wish very inspiring. I want to band together with other fat people to demand we be treated as human beings. (I am aware of the fat activist movement, but much of it seems to be young women whose main focus is to have their beauty recognized.) I can be reached at judithshapiro @t outlook d0t com
Judith Shapiro
July 30, 2018
You're a hero to many. Thank you for this, your gift to all of us of size, we needed this issue brought into the light.

My heart goes out to those whom you leave behind. Rest in power, and keep rising.
Jenn Lee
July 30, 2018
You are a light to many, you will shine on forever.
Reta Acorn
July 30, 2018
Ellen was an amazing woman. Her obituary should be a wake up call to the medical profession. Condolences to her family and friends, who surely have lost a beautiful (inside and out) family member and friend.

Dale R (Toronto)
July 30, 2018
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