What is Green Burial?
Green or natural burial is the process of human disposition with the least environmental consequences, while encouraging greater land stewardship. Bodies are not prepared using chemical embalming fluids, are placed in simple shrouds or biodegradable caskets, and concrete vaults are not used, nor are traditional markers (headstones & footstones). In Canada, green burial cemeteries come in three forms: full or conservation, hybrid and green-friendly (our term).
Full or Conservation Green Cemeteries are cemeteries that only practice green burial, or despite the debate surrounding the environmental impact of cremation, the interment of eco-friendly urns.
Hybrid Cemeteries are 'traditional' cemeteries that offer green burial in designated spaces. These spaces are set apart from the rest of the cemetery, and follow the guidelines for green or natural burial.
Green-Friendly Cemeteries are cemeteries that do not offer a dedicated green burial section, but are making efforts to offer environmentally friendly options. This could include the lack of cement vault or embalming fluids, and the choice of simple pine casket, or burial shroud. We will be updating our list as we find more green-friendly cemeteries in Canada.
Green burial often has an additional ecological aspect where the grounds/graves are planted with only native, beneficial species that are not chemically or mechanically managed, and where optimum land and water use guidelines are in place. There are at least two green burial organizations in Canada: the Green Burial Society of Canada, and the Natural Burial Association. The Green Burial Council, operates in both Canada and the United States, and offers environmental certificates for funeral homes, cemeteries and product manufacturers.
Embalming laws in Canada
"Is embalming required by law in Canada?" No. None of the provinces and territories require embalming. Some provinces do have rules pertaining to the length of time a body can be unembalmed for a viewing, before embalming would be necessary, but that is it (we're looking at you Quebec). Nothing would prevent someone from having a funeral at home with an unembalmed body.
Where Can I Have a Green Burial in Canada?
Whereas green burial is being quickly adopted throughout the United States, Canada currently lags behind. Only 2 Canadian provinces have full green burial sites, and most provinces and territories have none whatsoever. We called the following municipalities and cemeteries to confirm their green offerings.
"I want a green burial but there are no sites in my province, what can I do?"
If your province is lacking a green burial site, we've included the contact information for municipal or provincial cemetery management offices. Since green burial is legal in all provinces and territories, it takes consumer demand to see any change. A call to a government cemetery management office, or your local cemetery, can make all the difference. Encourage your friends and family to do the same, or propose a green burial site during local municipality meetings.
Many funeral homes in Canada can help facilitate green burial services, including My Alternatives in the West coast, and Eco Cremation & Burial Services in Ontario. Some funeral homes in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan also offer Bio-Cremation. Lastly, many cemeteries in these provinces will allow you to have a green-friendly burial. Unlike our Southern neighbours, many cemeteries in Canada do not require a vault or grave liner, will accept a green burial casket, and do not require a headstone or footstone. Ask your local cemetery or funeral home to find the greenest solution near you.
Green Burial in Alberta
There are no full or hybrid cemetery grounds in Alberta. However, “The City of Edmonton Cemeteries is planning for 'green burial' areas in two of our seven cemeteries”.
Want to see green burial in Alberta? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in British Columbia
When it comes to green burial, B.C. is ahead of the game. British Columbia is home to Canada's first ever green burial space, and home to the only full, or conservation green burial cemetery in Canada.
Green Burial in Manitoba
There are no full or hybrid cemetery grounds in Manitoba. Want to see full green burial in Manitoba? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in New Brunswick
Green Burial in Nova Scotia
Want to see full green burial in Nova Scotia? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
The Burlington Kings County Cemetery Society
Barley Street, Burlington,
(No website found)
Green Burial in North West Territories
Want to see green burial in the Northwest Territories? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in NL & Labrador
Want to see green burial in NL & Labrador? Get in touch with your local municipality, your local cemetery or Service Newfoundland:
Green Burial in Nunavut
Green Burial in Ontario
While Ontario has no full green burial cemeteries, many cemeteries offer hybrid services.
Want to see full green burial in Ontario? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in PEI
Want to see green burial in PEI? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in Quebec
Want to see green burial in Quebec? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in Saskatchewan
Note: We are in the process of confirming the details of a private green cemetery in Saskatchewan. Check back in soon!
Want to see green burial in Saskatchewan? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery:
Green Burial in Yukon
There are no full or hybrid green burial grounds in the Yukon. However Grey Mountain Cemetery is "presently looking at including natural burials and scattering gardens in the next expansion phase scheduled to open in 2018.” You can view that plan here.
Want to see green burial in The Yukon? Get in touch with your local municipality or your local cemetery: