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Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery2020-09-23T18:38:28-04:00

The Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery on Salt Spring Island.

 A licenced burial site and forest memorial offering a place for remembering, contemplating and celebrating life and death.

Choosing to be buried or scattered in this cemetery helps to preserve and protect acres of forested land in the Burgoyne Valley on Salt Spring Island.

A natural burial supports the natural environment at all levels so that future generations will enjoy old growth forests.

Memorializing our people reminds us that we are a part of something greater than just ourselves; that we are a part of this universe through past present and future.

Who we are, who we were, who we will be is connected to all life and the timelessness of the universe.

SSI Burial
Natural Burial Salt Spring
Salt Spring Island Cemetery

“Not only is natural burial by far the most ecologically sound way to perish, it doubles down on the fear of fragmentation and loss of control. Making the choice to be naturally buried says, ‘Not only am I aware that I’m a helpless, fragmented mass of organic matter, I celebrate it.”

~ Caitlin Doughty- “Mortician and Good Death Advocate

The Land

The Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery is located between the ocean and the hills, in the Burgoyne Valley on Salt Spring Island. Through farm and forest, down a winding lane, you will come to what looks like a typical Coastal Douglas Fir forest. Walk up the hill a little and you will find that amongst the stand of large Fir and Maple trees, is a burial ground.

The grounds offer peaceful spots for contemplation and remembering, a rustic gathering place for small celebrations, walking trails, plots for burial of full body or cremated remains, and places for scattering ashes.

This land is protected as a cemetery in perpetuity through a provincial Certificate of Public Interest on the property title and the cemetery is licenced as a provincial Place of Interment (licence #78285). We have a perpetual Care Fund that holds 25% of all moneys paid for plots, and will manage the care of the land forever.

As the current stewards of this land, the cemetery helps to ensure our mission to see the forest return to one of giant Douglas Firs. Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystems are at risk – by being buried here, you are helping to protect and grow these trees and contribute to an old growth forest.

In the Cemetery grounds you will find Coastal Douglas Fir plants such as, Salal, Sword fern, Oregon Grape and Vanilla Leaf. There are lichen, moss and diverse fungi. Resident animals include amphibians, Red Squirrels, Chestnut Backed Chickadees, Raven, Bald Eagles, Downy-, Hairy- and Pileated- Woodpeckers, and Great Horned-, Saw Whet-, Northern Pygmy- and Barred Owls.

Learn more about Coast Douglas Fir Forests here: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/douglasfir.pdf

Green Burial

Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery is the first entirely green burial Cemetery open to the public in Canada! The mission and ethics of green burial were our first thoughts in beginning this project years ago.

Green Burial or Natural Burial is caring for and burying our friends and families in the the ways of our ancestors. We wrap our loved ones in natural fibres, we build biodegradable caskets and baskets, we set them into a fern-lined shallow grave, and we mark their place with a simple stone memorial.

In a natural burial cemetery all graves look alike, and all return to the natural forest. The memorial stones are gathered from this land; they all resemble each other, yet each is unique. We are a community here, as on Salt Spring – unique, caring and environmentally conscious.

In the Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery, no chemicals are used in the bodies, caskets, urns or landscaping. Only biodegradable materials are put into and on top of the ground. Only indigenous plants are used in the reforestation. Bio-diversity of plants and animals is the mission of this land. Conservation and protection of this natural wild habitat is the heart of this natural burial cemetery.

For more information on Green Burial, please visit:

The Green Burial Society of Canada http://www.greenburialcanada.ca/
The Green Burial Council (U.S.) https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/

Cemetery Services

Full Body Burial plots

This is a full body green burial grave. We offer pre-need and at-need sales of a “Right of Interment” – which is the right to be buried (later or now) in a grave in the cemetery. Single or multiple Right of Interments/graves may be purchased.
You can be buried in a container made of natural materials in the typical supine pose or in the fetal position; you can also be placed directly into the ground, simply shrouded in a handmade cotton quilt or a linen cloth.

We offer pre-sales and at-need sales of a “Right of Interment” for cremains. The Right of Interment is an agreement giving you the right to be buried (now or later) in a grave in the cemetery. Single or multiple Right of Interments/graves can be purchased
Cremains can be buried in a container made of natural materials or poured directly into the earth at the base of a tree or into a stump. Cremains can also be scattered into the forest or poured around a favorite plant.

Cremation Burial plots and scattering

We offer pre-need and at-need sales of a “Right of Interment” for cremated remains. The Right of Interment is an agreement giving you the right to be buried (later or now) in a grave in the cemetery. Single or multiple Right of Interments/graves can be purchased

Cremains can be buried in a container made of natural materials or poured directly into the earth at the base of a tree or a favorite plant. Cremains can also be scattered into the forest from the hillside.

Grave-digging

You can choose to have your grave dug by machine or by hand (labour depending). We will arrange this at the time of need.

Memorial Stones

The stones naturally occurring in the Cemetery grounds are our Memorial Stones. These vary in type and size; you can choose from a variety of them. The stones are sandblasted with a name and life dates.

Gatherings

In a beautiful forest setting at the base of the Cemetery, we offer a large outdoor post and beam shed for friends and family to gather if you choose to. There is ample parking and a washroom.

Meetings

To book a telephone or in person meeting to discuss our services, please fill out the online form or email us. We are happy to discuss all your questions and wishes.

Rates

Natural Burials are usually not less expensive than mainstream interments. Rural graves (where land is more abundant) are usually less expensive than urban graves (where land is scarce). Right of Interments vary in our region from $1200 to $25000. We strive to be fair in our pricing. Please contact us for a current schedule of rates.

Pre-need purchasing

The Right of Interment (the right to be buried here) for full body and cremated remains can be purchased at any time during your life or at the time of death. A pre-need purchase ensures your burial choices are made with consideration and care, and that those choices are honoured. Pre-need purchases are less stressful for your grieving friends and family at the time of death because the decisions have already been made by you. The more you can prepare for your own dying and death, the easier it is for those who love and care for you.

Individual Right of Interments can be purchased, or multiple ones for couples or families. All individuals will receive a Right of Interment Certificate that they can keep with their will or other legal documents.

Funerals & Cremation

Funerals and cremations can be arranged through Salt Spring’s Funeral Director: Christie Doyle of Hayward’s Funeral Home, or through your community’s local Funeral Director.

FAQ

I want to be buried at the Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery. How do I do it?2020-08-18T18:23:33-04:00

Call or email the Cemetery Manager, Catherine Valentine, anytime during your life and pre-purchase a burial plot, or have your family do it for you after your passing. For a full body or cremation burial plot you will be purchasing a Right of Interment. This is a form of real property that ensures your right to be buried (interred) in this cemetery.

I don’t live on Salt Spring, can I be buried there?2020-08-24T13:12:37-04:00

Yes, we welcome everyone.

We can work with your local Funeral Director or they can speak with Haywards Funeral Home on Salt Spring to discuss transportation and preservation until the burial. Salt Spring is a spiritual place for many people and a memorable place to be buried.

Pre-purchasing a single or multiple graves (Right of Interments) will ensure that your wish to rest on Salt Spring Island eternally will come true.

Can I visit the Cemetery on a regular basis?2020-08-24T13:13:05-04:00

Cemetery visiting hours are 9 am to 6 pm daily. Purchasing a Right of Interment gives you a stake in this land – the right to visit and eventually rest here eternally.

Can I tend my loved one’s grave?2020-08-18T18:19:51-04:00

Natural burial cemeteries are left wild, only planted with indigenous plants. The forest will naturally regenerate the disturbed plots with moss, ferns, native plants of all sorts. Flowers can be placed at the time of interment but not ongoing. Memorial stones can be cleared of moss if you like but they will also eventually have lichen and moss growing on them. If one’s memorial stone gets completely hidden by plants over time, then it could be moved to the border of the gravesite to be seen. We maintain walking trails to allow access to all burial areas.

What about cremation and natural burial?2020-08-24T13:14:10-04:00

Cremated Remains (cremains) are a great source of nourishment for the forest, and purchasing a Right of Interment will help to protect this land in perpetuity from development.
Cremains can either be buried in a container, such as, a wooden urn, woven basket or cloth sack, or they can be poured or scattered at the base of a tree or into a stump.

Do you organize funerals?2020-08-18T18:18:06-04:00

Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery is the cemetery providing the burial site. We don’t offer funeral services, nor do we participate in the funeral. You are welcome to host family and friends here yourselves.

Christie Doyle of Haywards Funeral Home is the very kind and helpful local Funeral Director. We highly recommend her. There are also a number of celebrants and Home Funeral Support Services on Salt Spring Island and in most communities.

 

Will the burying of bodies affect the ground water?2020-08-18T18:16:22-04:00

This land is ideal for a cemetery because it is sloping with rocky soil, has a deep water-table and no surface water. This has been confirmed through a Geotech report and other government reviews.

The burying of bodies will provide compost to the growing trees of this forest memorial cemetery.

How do I know the cemetery will still exist when I die and for my descendants?2020-08-18T18:15:49-04:00

Once land is designated as a cemetery it is almost impossible to develop it into anything else.

The Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery is protected by the Certificate of Public Interest that is on the property title. A Perpetual Care Fund is established with Concentra Trust company to which twenty-five percent of all fees go. Those funds are accessed only by the provincial government to guarantee the care and maintenance of the cemetery in perpetuity.

Contact Information

Call the Cemetery Office: 250-653-9884 or fill out the following form to book a time for a telephone conversation.

Cathy Valentine Salt Spring Island Cemetery

Catherine Valentine, Cemetery Manager

cathy@saltspringcemetery.ca

Gavin Johnston, Forest Manager

gavin@saltspringcemetery.ca

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