Quebec looking at law to limit scattering of ashes

Quebec is exploring the possibility of instituting a new law that limits the areas where people are allowed to scatter the ashes of their loved ones.

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The province's proposed Bill 66 bans the dispersal of ashes in various public and private spaces as a way to respect “the dignity of the deceased.”

Some religious groups and funeral institutions are arguing that ashes should only be kept in a cemetery or a columbarium.

"If you want to remember the memory of this person, you (should) have a place where they are," said Yoland Tremblay, general manager of the Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges, which is the largest cemetery in Canada.

Some funeral directors say the current law regulating disposal of remains, which was instituted in the 1970s, is outdated. At the time, a church funeral, a casket and a burial in a cemetery were the traditional rites of passage.

Now, nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers choose to be cremated, and about a third of them want their loved ones to scatter their ashes in their honour.

Denis Desrochers, who represents the province's funeral home directors, told CTV News that having a designated space for ashes will help simplify the process facing grieving families.

"After a while, there is a heavy burden of to deal with the remains of your loved one," said Desrochers.

Most provinces don't have laws imposing strict limits over the scattering of ashes, but other countries, including France, don't allow it and have banned the keeping of urns at home.

But Maureen Rowe, whose husband of 34 years was cremated after he died, says scattering his ashes in her garden, and along the routes where he trained for the marathons he used to run, allows her to keep him close by.

"He was the love of my life," said Rowe.

"We used to talk about growing old together."

And Rowe says that a new law governing where she could spread his ashes, would severe that personal connection to the process.

"This is just an instance of me doing something on my own that just involves me and my husband -- nobody else," said Rowe.

"It is enough we pay income tax, we don’t have to pay with ashes for heaven's sakes."

With a report from CTV's Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin


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