Williams Lake was one of 16 communities across Canada to hold a swan-song festival.
About 60 people attended the event this past weekend at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre to re-engage with dying and deathcare in a more meaningful, holistic, and environmentally sustainable way.
Co-founder of the Cariboo Community Deathcaring Network, Nicola Finch said while some might think the number of attendees was low, she believes it is an indication that there’s much more work to do.
“I had one friend stand outside the door and I encouraged him to come in and he would not come in the doors because of the subject matter of death,” Finch said. “So that was a real indication to me of the work that we have to do which is education, advocacy, and allowing people to have their questions and concerns about death and dying addressed in a loving and gentle way.”
Finch said she and co-founder Angela Gutzer are super grateful to everyone who pitched in and helped and came by, enjoyed, and participated in the festival.
The Cariboo Community Death Caring Network will continue hosting their monthly death cafes with the next cafe to take place sometime late November.
The Network continues to remain passionate about creating a natural burial ground in the Cariboo, and Finch said they will be forming a non-profit in the next couple of months so they can fundraise in earnest.
“We’ll be looking for property five or ten acres overlooking the Fraser River, and we’ll carry on from there,” Finch said. “It’s all sustainable so a natural pine box can certainly be used as a burial container or a person can be shrouded and buried, and generally you don’t put up massive headstones; you allow the natural habitat there to exist along with the burials.”
Finch said while Williams Lake cemetery does not yet allow natural burial, many other municipal cemeteries in the province are including hybrid natural areas where natural burial can occur within an existing area of the cemetery.
“I hope and will be approaching the City to see whether we might include a hybrid natural burial area in our local cemetery. I expect we will at some point because it’s happening all over; Prince George has just opened their hybrid burial ground, Penticton has one in their main cemetery, so it’s catching on.”