Natural Landscapes in Cemeteries

Submitted by Sibylle Walke, and posted by The Sustainability Project

Dear neighbours,

This letter concerns the question: Does a native landscape cemetery for traditional burial have broad support in the community?

Several years ago I became interested in the idea of natural burial as a simple and nature-friendly way of caring for the dead and leaving a legacy

sLast year I made a presentation to the Arran-Elderslie Council exploring the concept. With the help of the Natural Burial Association I answered questions surrounding the differences in practice.

There is a need for cemetery expansion in Arran Elderslie and an opportunity for a hybrid cemetery as the Municipality owns land adjacent to the cemetery on Bruce Road 11.

After my presentation in August 2023, I was told that a staff report concerning cemeteries will soon follow and I would be informed.

Though some councillors, seeing a small delegation in support, were initially interested in my report and certainly Paisley Councillor Moiken Penner is engaged with the issue, questions about the status of the cemeteries remain unanswered. Though we hear there might be a report in May of 2024, no details as to the content or the plans have come forth.

Greg and I were pleased to find the local Rhody Funeral Institute fully informed, experienced and supportive of natural burial, as they are supportive of all their clients’ specific spiritual needs.

In my lifetime I have witnessed a global decline in biodiversity of 69%. I grieve for the places that are commodified for the sake of financial growth, without regard to their life-supporting function, let alone to their beauty and complexity.

The wish for a natural burial ground does not represent an exclusion or denigration of other ways of honouring our dead nor does a small acreage” save the planet “, but in my mind it would be a place of peace, recreation and a recognition of our human nature as part of this planet.

Can you imagine finding a final resting place in a natural landscape and your descendants visiting a meadow, wildflower grassland or wooded area in your memory ?

If you agree with this notion, would you join a delegation to council when the issue arises? We must show broad support if this type of cemetery is to be realised.

Does the idea touch a nerve, but you have many questions and do not know what you get into?

Would you like me to answer questions in a public meeting?

Lastly, should we succeed in the first step of establishing a need for this type of land dedication, would you be interested in being part of envisioning the type of native landscape desired?

Would you want to help plan the establishment and development of it? I have many good resources available, but the details in realisation need involvement and most importantly the agreement of the local community.

I would be most grateful for your responses,

Sibylle Walke

For more info: 519 353 7108

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