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Often our clients will request a clause in their wills setting out their funeral wishes and disposition of their remains. According to the Funeral Association of Canada, 50 years ago only about 5% of Canadians were cremated, but today that figure is closer to 60%. What can be done with your cremated remains (or “cremains”) in Alberta?

After cremation the ashes can be disposed of by the crematorium, or provided to the family in an urn within one or two days. What is left is about 2 or 3 kg of pulverized bones and ash. The Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board advises that “these materials are pure and present no health risk”.

The remains may be interred at the cemetery in existing grave plots, urn gardens, niches, in a columbarium or scattered at the cemetery grounds. Families could also choose to scatter the remains in a particular place that was special to the deceased and the family.

In Alberta, there are a few restrictions on where remains can be scattered. Generally:

– it is permissible to scatter ashes on Crown lands
– in the National Parks there are prohibitions against scattering remains in bodies of water
– permission is required to scatter ashes in bodies of water in Provincial Parks, forests
and wilderness areas

Some statutes raise the question as to whether remains could be considered harmful to the environment, such as the Canada Water Act and Fisheries Act. When in doubt, consider the laws and regulations or consult with your lawyer.

Families are now implementing many new and creative methods to honor the deceased person in the disposition of their ashes:

– There are companies that create diamonds from the remains by treating the ashes under high heat
and pressure
– Ashes can be launched into space in earth’s orbit
– Ashes can be transformed into vinyl records
– Ashes can be made into tattoo ink
– Remains can be deposited in containers on the seabed

It is wise to always check to see if you require permission to scatter ashes, and that the location that was chosen is not prohibited. Please contact us if you have any questions