PRESS + MEDIA

Official Bio’s

Michelle Pante

Co-Founder

Compassionate, creative, insightful, and able to cut through the chaos to achieve clarity, Michelle is energized by death, dying and grief as pathways to healing.

Prior to co-founding WILLOW, Michelle was a key player in the launch of the Green Burial Society of Canada, which took place during her tenure with LEES+Associates, North America’s crackerjack cemetery design and planning firm. She advocates for responsive, environmentally-sensitive funeral service and bereavement-care practices in all aspects of deathcare delivery. Michelle volunteered with a children’s bereavement program at a local hospice and is a licensed Funeral Director in the province of British Columbia. She apprenticed with a corporately-owned funeral home and with KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony, a pioneering locally-owned and operated funeral provider. Michelle helps families from diverse cultural, faith and income backgrounds to say their goodbyes, honour the circle of life and have courageous conversations. She has bachelor of art in sociology from the University of British Columbia, a bachelor of social work from McGill University and a master of business administration from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Earlier in her career, Michelle coordinated research and learning opportunities with the Arts and Health Project, Urban Development Institute, and Irish Museum of Modern Art.   Download Michelle’s biography

Reena Lazar

Co-Founder

A creative thinker, compassionate listener and a facilitator of peace on every level, Reena is fuelled by her passion for personal growth + transformation.

Committed to lifelong personal development, Reena has an eclectic background and education. She is a graduate of the BEyond Yonder Virtual School of Community Deathcaring in Canada, a twelve-week course given by ten different experts on such topics as grief, disposition, rituals, body care, advance planning, being with the dying, and funeral alternatives. Reena is committed to facilitating green and holistic approaches to death-care in our families, communities and in our culture at large. Prior to co-founding WILLOW, she created and led Peace it Together, which brought Palestinian, Israeli and Canadian youth together for dialogue, filmmaking and community engagement. For 11 years Reena created and led emotionally-charged processes about the world’s most intractable conflict. also taught conflict resolution for four years at Langara College as part of their peace and conflict studies concentration. Reena has a bachelor of architecture from McGill University and a masters in international affairs from Columbia University. She has completed many communication training courses throughout North America, including with the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and with the Compassionate Listening Project.   Download Reena’s biography

Approved Photos

You are free to use the below photos with our and the photographer’s permission as long as you include the photographer’s credit and send us a link at hello@willoweol.com to where they are being used.

Michelle Pante, Co-founder of WILLOW. Photo by Michael Kesten

Credit: Michael Kesten

Credit: Marie Poulin

Reena Lazar, Co-founder of WILLOW. Photo by Michael Kesten

Credit: Michael Kesten

Credit: Marie Poulin

Media Mentions


End-of-Life University

Reena and Michelle were interviewed about WILLOW’s Mexico Retreat by EOL University’s Dr. Karen Wyatt, Hospice Physician, Award-Winning Author and Educator.  
Recording is 69min and begins at 7min.

Listen now


Vancouver Co-Op Radio

Michelle speaks with Vancouver Co-Op Radio about our upcoming Mexico retreat, including Day of the Dead (1 hour).

Listen now


The United Church Observer

In this article, Pieta Woolley discusses 5 ways to die with more than just ‘dignity’, and speaks to Willow’s Departure Directions workshop and how creating Departure Directions can help bring peace of mind. 

READ ARTICLE


The United Church Observer

In an article about Don Grayston’s philosophy of a good death, Pieta Woolley interviewed Reena and Michelle and reports on her experience attending a Departure Directions workshop.  

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The Whole Family Happiness Project

Read Michelle’s interview with Lola Augustine Brown of The Whole Family Happiness Project. Michelle talks about her journey to becoming a funeral director and then shifting gears to join forces with Reena to launch WILLOW.

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The DebTalks Podcast

Michelle + Reena speak to Debbie Roche host of The DebTalks Podcast. They discuss our collective fears around the conversations surrounding death and dying and how contemplating our inevitable death will help us lead a more inspired life. (55 mins).

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Honestly Lisa

Michelle + Reena speak to Lisa Orkin host of Honestly Lisa, a podcast for women who are trying to love themselves. (44 mins).

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Roundhouse Radio

Michelle speaks with Stirling Faux of Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio about the fears around death and how facing it through holistic end of life planning can lead to a more inspired life (10 mins).

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Cortes Community Radio

Deep Roots, Cortes Community Radio

Michelle + Reena join Mercedes Grant for a conversation on death and how we can overcome our fears surrounding the subject (29 mins. Michelle + Reena are first heard at 11:15 min).

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The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun

Read how WILLOW helped our friend and client have the end of his life reflect his values. And find out why Vancouver’s only cemetery is a very green way to go.

read article


Death Matters Live, Coop Radio

Michelle + Reena chat to the Death Matters Live Show on Coop Radio about inspiring purposeful living through end of life planning (62 mins).

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Roundhouse Radio

Michelle and Reena speak with Martin Strong of Roundhouse Radio about inspired end of life planning and soulful personal development (5 mins).

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Michelle Pante and Reena Lazar, Co-founders of WILLOW

Vancouver Courier

Michelle + Reena speak to the Vancouver Courier about how end of life planning can lead to a focus on living with purpose.

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