Summer So(u)lstice at Royal Oak Burial Park

Taken from an article in the Times Colonist

http://www.timescolonist.com/be-the-life-of-the-party-at-burial-park-s-summer-so-u-lstice-1.20637641

If someone suggested an afternoon at the cemetery, your first thought likely wouldn’t be: “Hey, that sounds like a good time.”

Victoria artist Paula Jardine hopes to change your mind about that. She’s a Canadian pioneer in a rarefied field: the creation of community events honouring the dead through art.

Jardine is artist-in-residence at Royal Oak Burial Park, where today there will be free public entertainment — and yes, even a good time — on offer.

Summer So(u)lstice will offer a rollicking New Orleans-style brass band, a harpist and a choir. Wandering clarinetists will play in the woodlands and at a mausoleum. Poets will pen personalized poems for the public. There will even be vintage car display and refreshments.

It’s the eighth year Summer So(u)lstice has been held at Royal Oak Burial Park, one of the largest cemeteries in Western Canada.

There are just two annual events like this in the country — the other is the All Souls sacred celebration at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

Both are overseen by Jardine, their founding organizer. She’s the only cemetery-based artist-in-residence in Canada curating such occasions.

“It’s quite unique,” said the veteran artist, who has created community-art happenings of all sorts for decades.

Summer So(u)lstice isn’t your typical outdoor party. The central intent is to honour the dead with dignity and respect. Loved ones are memorialized in an enjoyable, uplifting — and even fun — manner through art. As well as music, and poetry, the event features the creation of personalized artworks: Summer So(u)lstice visitors are encouraged to write tributes to the departed on “memory flags” hung along terraces).

Between 150 and 200 people attend Summer So(u)lstice each year. Some have friends and/or family members buried at Royal Oak, the only not-for-profit municipal burial park in British Columbia.

Others come to mourn loved ones interred or cremated elsewhere.

A Psychology Today article once identified death as the No. 1 taboo subject in America.

Jardine says Summer So(u)lstice breaks through the traditional reluctance — and even fear — many North Americans feel about discussing death and mourning.

“This is something we really need. It’s a social event where it’s OK if you’re crying, because the person next to you is probably crying too,” she said.

“But there’s also going to be laughing and drinking tea,” Jardine added, noting some families even bring picnics.

She first got the idea of social events honouring the dead after attending her own father’s funeral in Edmonton in 1995.

Jardine found it a disappointment: sterile, drab and alienating. “There was no beauty involved. Just this kind of gothic, weird, expensive experience,” she said.

 

Before her father’s death Jardine had organized an annual event in Vancouver called Parade of Lost Souls. It was a community procession on Halloween through the back alleys of the Commercial Drive area. The intent was to “reclaim” Halloween as a sacred event to honour the dead.

The disappointment with her dad’s funeral — and her experiences with Parade of Lost Souls — led to her founding A Night for All Souls at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery in 2005, followed by Summer So(u)lstice in 2010.

In preparation for A Night for All Souls, Jardine studied international memorial and funeral practices. She’d also travelled to England on a Canada Council grant to meet with artists doing funeral-related work.

Jardine’s interest in artistic responses to death date back to 1971. She performed a parade led by the artist ManWoman at the Edmonton Speedway, doing a “death dance” in a skeleton costume.

“There’s a lot of opportunities in grieving and memorializing for art and beauty … I think that’s a fundamental impulsive, to completely embrace the dead with beauty,” she said.

Her interest in creating opportunities for personalized responses to death extends to her own life.

When Jardine’s mother-in-law died last April, her daughter and husband hand-built the casket. The family had the body at home for a time before her interment at Royal Oak Burial Park.

Jardine has already planned her own funeral. She’d like to be buried in a biodegradable box on on Saturna Island. There will be a garden gate with a sign that says: “Everyone welcome — step through.”

She’d originally wanted have a tree planted on the grave as well.

“I wanted to have an apple tree, so I could feed my great grand-children on my gave. I’d be literally feeding them. That was my idea.”

However, Jardine has since changed her mind about that detail. The decision came after she placed some of her late grandfather’s ashes at the roots of a gooseberry bush as a living tribute.

“It bore a lot of fruit the first year. But I found I couldn’t quite put that in my mouth.”

Royal Oak Burial Park hosts other public events. There’s the annual Little Spirits Vigil for families who’ve lost babies. There’s also a Mother’s Day event in which carnations are given out.

Crystabelle Fobler, Royal Oak’s new executive director, says the park is considering a new venture that’s increasingly popular in North America. It is a “death café,” to be hosted by a funeral director.

“People are getting together over tea and cookies, just talking about death,” she said.

When Jardine tells new acquaintances she’s artist-in-residence at two cemeteries, they’re sometimes surprised.

Yet it’s anything but a conversation-killer. “People are so relieved to talk about it,” she said with a smile, “so I hear everyone’s death stories.”


© Copyright Times Colonist - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/be-the-life-of-the-party-at-burial-park-s-summer-so-u-lstice-1.20637641#sthash.pbh1Gz5r.dpuf

Mountain View Cemetery

From the Vancouver Sun 

 

Mountain View Cemetery's grave ready for family's third generation

GORDON MCINTYRE
More from Gordon McIntyre

Published on: March 15, 2017 | Last Updated: March 15, 2017 1:48 PM PDT

The Grayston family grave in Mountain View Cemetery, bought in 1907 upon the death of 41-year-old Jennie Grayston. It was later where Donald Grayston's father and grandfather were buried. Now, 77-year-old Donald says when his time comes he will be laid to rest in the same grave. 

When Donald Grayston’s time comes, he’ll be going home in a sense.

Grayston, 77 and suffering a degenerative lung disease, will be buried in the same grave his dad was 25 years ago and that his grandfather was 75 years ago.

“I was at a Mountain View Cemetery workshop and one of the subjects was reburials,” Grayston said. “I found the idea interesting and appealing, appealing from at least two points of view: One was financial, the other was ecological, environmental.

“My time is short, I don’t know how short, but I’m aware of the ecological situation and I want to be ecologically responsible as far as I can.

“This seems like a good way to do it.”

Grave reuse is one of the components of a green funeral, which generally refers to allowing a body to decompose naturally: No burial vault or grave liner, no embalming, a biodegradable casket.

 

Cremation, on the other hand, viewed by many as environmentally friendly and chosen by millions of people the world over, requires a lot of energy to turn a body to ash.

“The idea is not to try to preserve the deceased’s body, accepting that our bodies are natural and will decompose like other things,” said Michelle Pante, co-founder of Willow, which provides end-of-life coaching and workshops.

“Mountain View is unique, particularly in not requiring grave liners.”

Mountain View Cemetery manager Glen Hodges said that while rare in North America, the practice of grave reuse is common in Europe and elsewhere.

Grave reuse is rare in North America, but the practice is common in Europe and elsewhere, Mountain View manager Glen Hodges said.

The New World has lots of land and it hasn’t been until recently that cities like Vancouver and Toronto have faced a shortage of cemetery space, he said.

“Europe’s been burying people for thousands of years, as opposed to 150,” Hodges said. “We’re a young country.”

Mountain View, which had its first burial in February 1887, comprises 43 hectares (106 acres) and is nearing 150,000 interred souls.

It’s almost unique in North America in not making grave liners mandatory.

“How that started, no one really knows, it’s just always been the case,” Hodges said. “Mountain View just always had this practice.”

Of 75 or 80 casket burials last year, perhaps five or six chose a liner, he said.

With no liner, bodies and caskets decompose faster, allowing for reuse after 40 years.

It’s a huge cost saving: A new grave at Mountain View is $25,000; a standard burial is $1,180, plus reopening the grave costs another $535 for a total of $1,715.

“So for a premium of $535 you can save yourself almost $25,000,” Hodges said.

Mountain View allows two caskets in a grave.

Since Grayston’s grandfather was buried more than 40 years ago, the grandson is eligible to be put in the same grave.

The grave will be dug up, deepened and whatever is left of Grayston’s grandfather (practically nothing, Hodges said) placed at the bottom and covered in dirt.

Grayston’s father will be placed in the deep spot formerly occupied by the grandfather, and Grayston placed in the standard spot on top.

The Grayston family grave was purchased in 1907 when Donald’s grandfather had to bury his 41-year-old wife Jennie.

“Reusing a grave allows people the right to make choices at the end of their lives that are aligned with the beliefs they hold during their life,” Willow’s Pante said.

“I think Don is so moved to think, first, that he’ll be in his neighbourhood cemetery, but that he can reuse the same grave as his father and grandfather.”

gordmcintyre@postmedia.com

Ellen Newman Joins The Board of Directors

Ellen is a licensed funeral director specializing in natural options with eco Cremation & Burial Services Inc. in Ontario.  eco is the only funeral home in Ontario currently that specializes in green and natural burial options. 
For the past 20 years, life has found her hovering at the crossroads of people’s lives – first as a DONA/CAPPA certified doula and childbirth educator and then as a Unitarian Universalist Lay Chaplain. She also served as a full time Realtor for a while – which is another kind of transition. She is a graduate (2014) of the Contemplative End of Life Care program at the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto, where she first learned of home funerals, home funeral guides and thanadoulas, and her passion for green, natural and family centered funeral and burial options was born. She found her work with grieving families as a Lay Chaplain the most rewarding to date which led her to embark on a new career as a funeral director at the age of 50.
Ellen also has a keen interest in the concept of graceful aging, and is the founder and creator of the Welcome the Crone women’s retreat celebrating the age of power and wisdom. She has spoken on the topic of graceful aging to students of the Sociology Department at York University.
She is the host/facilitator of the Halton Hills Death Café, and serves as a member and trainer on the Infant and Pregnancy Loss Committee of the Home Hospice Association. She serves the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga as the chair of the Lay Chaplaincy Committee. She is the founder of the Natural Death Expo - a consumer information fair highlighting green, natural and family centered options in death and dying, the first of which took place in November 2016.
In her spare time, you will find Ellen colouring in adult colouring books, doodling Zentangle (a new love), gardening, singing, cooking, dancing, and meditating, either at home or at the cottage in Parry Sound -where you might also find her in neon green kayak named Oya.

Notice of Annual General Meeting


The Annual General Meeting

of the

Green Burial Society of Canada
#509 - 318 Homer Street Vancouver BC V6B 2V2

will be held on

Thursday, March 9, 2017

commencing at

12:00 P.M. (noon) PST
 

via
 

TELECONFERENCE: As permitted under the B.C. Society Act, the Annual General Meeting will be conducted via ‘electronic means’ in a teleconference format. To dial-in to the AGM please follow the instructions provided here – from any phone:
 

Call Telephone Number: 1-877-733-5390

When Prompted, Enter Conference Code: 251 640 7911 #
 

Teleconference dial-in will open at 11:45 a.m. PST and

the meeting will commence at 12:00 p.m. (noon) PST.
 

As a member of the GBSC it would be greatly appreciated if you can confirm that you will be joining the AGM conference call by emailing: greenburialcanada@gmail.com
 

A meeting package, including agenda will be circulated to members of record on or before Thursday, March 2, 2017.
 

We look forward to having you join GBSC AGM
.c/o #509 - 318 Homer Street, Vancouver BC V6B 2V2
 

Green Burial: Sustainable Memorial Sites

Taken from Ontario Association of Landscape Architects article October 21, 2016 with information provided by the Green Burial Society of Canada's Catriona Hearn

Woodlands entry monument at the Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, B.C. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Woodlands entry monument at the Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, B.C. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Green Burial: Sustainable Memorial Sites

Since the 1831 founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts, credited with inspiring North America’s public park movement, spaces of remembrance have played evolving, disparate roles in cities. Landscape architects have been instrumental in negotiating the uses of cemeteries as parks, memorials, arboreta, and, more recently, natural burial grounds.

Today’s green burial is an iteration of the ancient practice of direct ground burial, which is still traditional in many cultures. In guidelines laid out by the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC), an unembalmed body is placed in a simple wooden casket or shroud, which is placed directly in the ground, without a concrete vault or liner. To complete the process, the surface over the grave must be restored with indigenous plants, and the cemetery plan must minimize the disturbance that can come with digging new graves.

The British Columbia-based GBSC was formed in 2013 to promote sustainability within the bereavement sector and share information about green burial. The GBSC is also working towards establishing certification standards for green burial practices, something its American older sibling, the Green Burial Council, has already put in place in the United States.

Catriona Hearn, BLA, Senior Associate at LEES + Associates and Vice President of the GBSC’s board of directors, emphasizes that Canadian certification will acknowledge the spectrum of green practices within the bereavement sector: “Death and choices about disposition are sensitive —and legitimately so. We should be trying to help people consider these things based on real information.”

According to Hearn, “The burial industry has become more sustainable —environmentally, socially, and, on some levels, economically. It’s incremental, and largely based on people understanding the value of land in a broader sense, especially as space becomes more precious, notably in urban areas. This has led people to see cemeteries as park space.”

Hearn points to Mountain View Cemetery as an example of the positive change sustainable practices can bring to traditional urban cemeteries. Owned and operated by the city of Vancouver since 1886, Mountain View has dealt with the space crunch by becoming a pioneer in grave reuse, allowing it to remain active. The cemetery searches out and reclaims pre-paid vacant plots, using advertisements to try to find the owners of potentially abandoned lots purchased before 1940.

As well, relatives can reuse existing plots after 40 years have passed, a practice contingent on burial without concrete grave liners, so that existing remains can be reburied deeper and eventually returned to the earth. Grave reuse is a rarity in Canada, but Hearn thinks it would be a big move forward for sustainable burial practices.

In her position at LEES + Associates, Hearn worked on the Woodlands area at Victoria’s Royal Oak Burial Park, which was created in response to community demand and opened in 2008. A shady grove surrounded by the native coastal forest of Vancouver Island, it is the first dedicated green burial area in Canada, and expresses a communal approach to the land. People are interred sequentially, and memorialized on a central monument. Hearn says that this gets people thinking of the larger picture instead of concentrating on the ownership of a single space.

Woodlands memorialization. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Woodlands memorialization. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Woodlands view of the entry into Phase 1, Royal Oak Burial Park. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Woodlands view of the entry into Phase 1, Royal Oak Burial Park. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

While B.C. is clearly a leader in green burial, options for sustainable interment also exist in Ontario. Three non-denominational cemeteries offer green burial: Duffin Meadows Cemetery in Pickering, Meadowvale in Brampton, and Cobourg Union Cemetery north of Toronto. As well, there are a number of Muslim and Jewish cemeteries with green practices, including the Toronto Muslim Cemetery in Richmond Hill.

Both Duffin Meadows and Meadowvale cemeteries are run by the Mount Pleasant Group, Ontario’s largest not-for-profit cemetery. At these sites, graves are not individually marked, and memorials are inscribed on central monuments. Meadow grasses are allowed to grow tall, and naturalization is encouraged. Rick Cowan, Mount Pleasant Group’s Assistant Vice-President of Marketing and Communications, describes natural burial as a niche market:

“While much has been written about natural or green burial, demand for this choice of disposition, in our experience, remains relatively low. Our goal is to provide choice regardless of the market size.”

Stephanie Snow, OALA, a principal at Snow Larc Landscape Architecture, has worked with private cemetery clients to increase environmental stewardship through use of low-impact design, such as xeriscaping at Toronto’s Prospect Cemetery. She sees green burial as one option among many for cemeteries trying to appeal to a diverse population: “Some cultures have embraced natural burial for a very long time. For example, the Bahá’í faith does not permit embalming unless required by law. Jewish burial restricts embalming and places the body in as close contact with the earth as possible. Muslim tradition restricts embalming, and the deceased is wrapped in a simple shroud. Traditionally, the casket is carried to the gravesite by members of the community, on foot, and shovels are provided at the graveside. If a vault is used, and it most often is not, it is open bottomed to allow the remains to be in direct contact with the earth.”

Snow and Cowan both point to cremation as an option for people searching for an environmentally conscious choice, citing the development of nearly emission-free crematoria, such as those added to Elgin Mills and Mount Pleasant cemeteries in 2014. These advancements come as the bereavement industry makes a major shift towards cremation. Between 1985 and 2014 the number of cremations in the Greater Toronto Area jumped from 8,500 to roughly 55,500. However, according to Snow, 50 percent of the remains were either left at the crematorium or “stored” at home, reducing the number of interments. As she sees it, “The business challenge for cemeteries and landscape architects alike is that while designers create more options to attract families back to cemeteries, fewer people are using them.”

As well, Snow reports that peoples’ burial requests are changing: “In addition to scattering forests and scattering gardens, I’m seeing my clients incorporate a range of green burial options, from mausoleums using geothermal heating systems to communal ossuaries.”

Nicole Hanson, MES (Pl.), a community planner and former funeral celebrant who has worked as a regulator for Ontario’s Cemeteries and Crematoriums Regulation Unit, sees the challenges of access to affordable housing created by rising land values mirrored in cemeteries. People want to memorialize relatives nearby, but can’t necessarily afford the options in the city. She asks where people will go if they can’t afford to pay thousands for a plot and their culture forbids cremation: “Death is becoming an equity issue when you are looking at planning for death, and designing for death, and memorializing people. We should be allocating spaces for people to die [and be memorialized] in the city.”

Hanson points to the extensive cemetery-needs analysis done by York Region in 2015 as the kind of planning that needs to become more common. The report inventoried the region’s existing cemeteries and user demographics, and projected the need for cemetery space up to 2041, a planning horizon considered too short by many stakeholders. Notably, the report suggests that 66 percent of the users in York Region could be coming from Toronto within the next 25 years, as Toronto will have reached its interment capacity. Hanson hopes that Toronto will undertake its own cemetery-needs analysis soon, and she has been working with Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong and Councillor Justin J. Di Ciano in an effort to make this happen.

Hanson sees opportunities for planners and landscape architects to design smaller memorial sites that serve nearby communities, or to find more capacity in currently inactive municipal cemeteries. She has seen cemetery operations consolidate as small sites no longer able to support themselves are signed over to municipal care, which provides municipalities with the opportunity to incorporate cemeteries into their long-term plans.

As Southern Ontario continues to densify, the green practices of cemeteries such as Mountain View and Royal Oak Burial Park could be examples of how to deal with space constraints in memorial sites. However, that will depend on what consumers want from the bereavement industry, and how far into the future planners, landscape architects, and cemetery operators are willing to think.

TEXT BY KATIE STRANG, A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURAL INTERN AT BSQ LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.

Woodlands 2009 plan. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Woodlands 2009 plan. IMAGE/ Courtesy of LEES + Associates

Mountain View, a Vancouver cemetery, is a pioneer in grave reuse. IMAGE/ Wayne Worden

Mountain View, a Vancouver cemetery, is a pioneer in grave reuse. IMAGE/ Wayne Worden

Mountain View, a Vancouver cemetery, is a pioneer in grave reuse. IMAGE/ Wayne Worden

Mountain View, a Vancouver cemetery, is a pioneer in grave reuse. IMAGE/ Wayne Worden

Denman Island is Certified

A Small Community Takes a Big Step

October 1st was an auspicious day on Denman Island. Following a visit to the Island, staff of Consumer Protection BC issued a Place of Interment Licence to the Denman Island Memorial Society, and the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery became a reality. 

The Denman Island Memorial Society formed in 2009 to develop and operate a cemetery for Denman Island, as the existing cemetery had sold all of its burial rights in the early 1970s. From the start, the goal was to create a cemetery that followed the principles of natural burial. The new cemetery is thought to be the first newly created, exclusively green cemetery in Canada.

The cemetery is located in the middle of the Island and is bordered by Central Park, a large conservation/recreation property owned by the Denman Conservancy Association. The Conservancy donated one hectare of Central Park for the cemetery, on the condition that the Memorial Society register a conservation covenant on the land. The covenant protects the ecological values of the land while allowing its use as a cemetery. It is thought to be the first such covenant in this country. 

Denman Island is a small island in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, with about 1200 residents. As happens in small communities, residents of the Island have, over time, identified social needs and worked together to address these needs. The creation of this cemetery is another example of the spirit of volunteerism that bonds the community and has resulted in a number of vital community facilities and services.
 
The new cemetery is intended for residents and landowners of Denman Island and members of their immediate families. It provides for 1000 graves, with the intention of serving the community for 100 years. The official opening is scheduled for Sunday, October 11th; however, the first burial will occur two days prior to the opening to accommodate the needs of an Island family. 

The Memorial Society is grateful to the many individuals and groups who provided advice and donated services in order to make this project happen. The Society also appreciates the wholehearted support extended by Denman islanders, as well as the assistance provided by the following funders: The Real Estate Foundation of B.C., the Comox Valley Regional District; the Union Bay Credit Union; the Natural Burial Association; and Piercy’s Mount Washington Funeral Home. 

For more information about the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery, see www.dinbc.ca.

Green Burial ARE YOU READY?

CELEBRATING A LIFE LIVED

GREEN BURIAL

Are you ready?

As the families we serve adopt more environmentally-conscious lifestyles, they are increasinlyg seeking ways to imbue their end-of-life choices with the same values that underpinned their lives. For these families, the opportunity to choose green burial provides a meaningful way to make a final, philosophical statement that is spiritually fulfilling for themselves as well as those that they leave behind.

Are you ready to serve green burial families?  Have you taken the time to learn about green burial and to understand the green burial consumer? If you haven’t, you should, because green burial is coming to your community—if it hasn’t already. In recent years, green burial and the public’s interest in the topic has been covered by the spectrum of Canadian media. The National Post, CTV National News, the Globe and Mail, McLean’s, countless local news outlets, death care trade publications, and even Reader’s Digest have covered the green burial story in Canada.

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

Green burial – the interment of a body directly into the earth—is nothing new; in fact, it’s the oldest form of human disposition, practiced by human civilizations over the course of human evolution. The modern green burial movement is just an acknowledgement of the value of this practice, having arisen from renewed interest in the practice that emerged out of the UK over the past few decades. 

 

Sometimes known as “natural burial,” green burial is an environmentally-sensitive alternative to traditional burial as well as cremation. In the modern context, cremation interment may also be considered green burial, providing the five key principles of the practice are followed, including:

·        No Embalming:  A body is prepared for green burial without embalming. Decomposition is nature’s way of recycling a body and green burial families regard embalming as a highly invasive, unnatural and unnecessary practice.

·        Direct Earth Burial:  The un-embalmed body is wrapped in a shroud made of natural, biodegradable fibres and buried directly in the grave. The shrouded remains can also be placed into a casket as long as this container is also fully biodegradable and constructed from sustainable materials.  A grave liner or vault is not used in order to encourage natural decomposition.  

         Communal Memorialization:  Individual memorials are discouraged and are often prohibited in green burial grounds. Instead, communal memorialization that utilizes naturally-sourced materials may be placed in a green burial area, with only simple inscriptions of the deceased. Ultimately, it is the green burial site as whole that becomes a living memorial to the persons interred there.

·        Ecological Restoration and Preservation: Once a green burial is complete and the grave has settled, it is planted with locally-indigenous plants, which may include trees and shrubs along with a groundcover to stabilize the grave. These plantings are typically conducted according to a pre-established plan that is designed to optimize the creation, enhancement and integration of the entire interment area into its ecological context. Finally, site preservation and perpetual protection are key components of green burial. A combination of land covenants, protective easements, and other enforceable guarantees made by the green burial cemetery operator are put in place to ensure the site is never repurposed and the natural eco-system is allowed to flourish, with assured protection – in perpetuity.

·        Optimized Land Use:  A well-planned green burial cemetery (or cemetery section) will optimize the land it occupies.  Design elements will include minimal infrastructure, temporary roads that can be removed and converted into interment lots, operationally pragmatic grave dimensions, and section lot plans that maximize interment capacity.

 

GREEN BURIAL IS TRENDING

 

Green burial is a trend. This has been proven in the UK: in 1993 the Carlisle Cemetery opened the first woodland green burial site; today in the UK, there are nearly 300 active green burial “woodlands.” And green burial is expanding across North America: in the US, the Green Burial Council (GBC) now has 340 certified cemetery and funeral service facilities across 41 states, along with sites in six Canadian provinces. Canada’s first urban GBC certified green burial site opened in Victoria, B.C. in 2008. Since then, a small number of other communities in Canada have made green burial available.

Admittedly, Canada is lagging behind in providing green burial options to consumers. But a new organization, the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC), plans to change that. Through education, advocacy, eliciting “buy-in” from death care providers—and with the hard work of a passionate membership—the GBSC aspires to bringing green burial to communities across Canada.

 

Ready or not, the UK and the US experience, along with the voice of Canadian consumers, istelling us that the public is very interested in green burial, they want green burial, and many would consider choosing this for themselves if it weremade available to them. Consumers also tell us that if they run into resistance in finding getting green burial providers in the established industry, they will seek out alternative providers, and the means to have their service preferences met. Those death care providers that underestimate or minimize the consumer interest and demand for green burial run the risk of repeating the mistake made by the industry inthe late 1950’s, when it believed that growing interest in cremation things was “just a fad.”

The Canadian public is changing. Increasingly, Canadians are seeking more health-conscious lifestyles that are centered on self-guided spirituality, an active commitment to the environment, healthy living –and death. Death care providers that want to avoid being left behind by this trend need to adapt to these new realities in order to serve and honour the lifestyle choices of the “new” consumer.   

 

MADE IN CANADA … HELP IS AT HAND

Canadians, whether it be individuals, organizations and death care service providers, need a credible, “go-to” organization for green burial information and advocacy. 

On March 7th, 2013, the Green Burial Society of Canada was incorporated in B.C. Shortly after, the Society’s first AGM was held in Richmond, B.C. with 18 interested persons in attendance. The GBSC was founded by a small but passionate group of people, working in disparate disciplines but united by a common cause: the advancement of green burial in Canada. The Green Burial Society of Canada is a wholly Canadian, independent organization.

Here is what the Green Burial Society of Canada is preparing to do:

·        ADVOCATE for the adoption of environmentally responsible and ecologically sustainable interment, cremation, funeral service and bereavement care practices in every facet of death care delivery in Canada.

·        ASSIST organizations, businesses, individuals and governments across Canada to adapt and implement green burial standards and best practices for the provision of environmentally responsible and ecologically sensitive death care practices in their local jurisdiction. 

·        ESTABLISH such standards and best practices as may permit the society to recognize place of interment operators, crematorium operators and funeral service providers and professionals in Canada who commit to providing their goods and services in accordance with the standards, goals and objectives of the Society.

·        PROMOTE, at every opportunity, the values, goals and objectives of the society throughout Canada and, with other like-minded organizations foster the mutual exchange of ideas, discussion of issues of common concern and the study and advancement of green funeral, interment and cremation practices.

·        WORK in support of the goals and objectives of and in collaboration with international green burial organizations and advocates that desire in the global context to advance sustainable death care practices.

 

It is also very important to note that the Green Burial Society of Canada is inclusive and supportive, and fully respects conventional death care practices, death care providers and the death care choices made by individual consumers. The GBSC is not about diminishing conventional modes of

body preparation, disposition or memorialization that continue to represent meaningful family traditions for some. 

The GBSC believes that death care services can be made more environmentally sensitive and sustainable. It is the Society’s mission to show how this can be done, and to advocate for, and help make, those environmentally-responsive services a part of the broad range of death care service options available to Canadians. 

The Green Burial Society of Canada welcomes the opportunity to work with any existing or new cemetery operator or funeral service providers that want to bring green burial and more sustainable funeral practices to their operations. Ultimately, the GBSC wants to be the one-stop resource for “all things green burial,” including “green” funeral services, across Canada.

 

YOU CAN LEARN…YOU CAN HELP

 

If you want to learn more about green burial (you know you should!), and about the new “made in Canada” society, visit the website at www.greenburialcanada.ca. The site is a growing resource about the fundamentals of green burial, the Society and the Society’s plans, and its goals. And if you don’t find an answer to your questions, just email the GBSC at: greenburialcanada@gmail.com. Even if you just sign up for the mailing list, you’ll be doing yourself a favour!

And if you are passionate about green burial, the Society is looking for early-adopters and “ground-floor specialists” to help build the organization into a truly pan-Canadian organization. As a start-up organization, the GBSC is seeking volunteers from across Canada to represent a broad spectrum of partners we need to build the organization. If you believe in the purposes of the GBSC, green burial principles in general, and believe that you have expertise that could help, please do not hesitate to contact the GBSC at:  greenburialcanada@gmail.com

 

In the popular TV show the Game of Thrones, a signature phrase was used: “Winter is coming…are you ready?”  Since winter is pretty much always coming in Canada, we’ll close with a related question: “Green burial is coming…are you ready?”