Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the Questions We’ve Heard So Far


⇒ Can I be buried in the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery if I no longer live on Denman Island?

Yes. Burial of whole body remains or cremated remains and the scattering of cremated remains are available to residents and landowners, whether they live on Denman Island or just lived there in the past. As set out in the section of this website called Burial Rights, immediate family members are also eligible.


⇒ Can a family arrange for a burial that combines features of conventional burial (e.g., embalming) with some practices of natural burial?

No. Burials in the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery need to comply with all of the prerequisites of natural burial. Denman Island families choosing to follow some aspects of conventional burial are advised to contact a funeral home or cemetery on Vancouver Island.


 Can a person with an artificial hip be buried in a green cemetery?

It would depend on the regulations for the particular cemetery. The Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery does not require the removal of artificial joints, pacemakers, dental fillings or similar embedded, foreign materials.


⇒ Why don’t all of the plots in the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery accommodate more than one family member?

Because the goal in natural burial is to maintain the area with the graves in a natural state, the land is left undisturbed after graves are filled to allow the native vegetation to regenerate. To achieve this end, graves are used sequentially for various members of a community as needed, rather than being reserved for members of a particular family. This is the approach planned for most of the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery; however, the cemetery design allows for a small number of larger burial plots, in a relatively open area, that accommodate more than one grave.


 If a coffin is only made of cardboard, is it strong enough to hold a body?

B.C. legislation requires that the transport of human remains be carried out by an authorized person, in a safe and dignified manner, and in a closed container. A cardboard coffin meets these requirements, as long as a liner is used to give the coffin the required strength. The liner is usually a wooden board; if the coffin is to be buried, the liner cannot not be chipboard, pressboard, fiberboard, metal or any artificial material.


 Cremation uses a lot of energy, so it isn’t very green. Why are cremated remains allowed in the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery?

The decision to accommodate cremated remains in the Cemetery represents a compromise between the most stringent objectives of natural burial and the popularity of cremation in British Columbia at this time. This popularity was reflected in the comments of several members of this community at the early planning workshops for the Cemetery, which were the impetus for making this decision.


⇒ An urn containing cremated remains isn’t very big, compared to a grave in a cemetery. How many urns can be buried in one plot at the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery?

The rules of the Cemetery stipulate that each grave, whether it is a standard burial plot or part of a family burial plot, is intended for the remains of one person, regardless of whether these remains are whole body remains or cremated remains. This rule is intended to minimize the disturbance of the land, allowing the vegetation to return as soon as the grave is used. It is also intended to avoid encouraging families to choose cremation over whole body burial, given the negative environmental impacts of the cremation process. 


 Can families using the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery plant a tree on a newly filled grave?

No. Families interested in participating in plantings on a new grave are invited to spread seeds, using a packet of seeds of Denman Island herbaceous plants that is supplied by DIMS. Although the rules for the Cemetery allow for the transplanting of saplings, ferns, shrubs and groundcover from undeveloped areas of the Cemetery to newly filled graves, this activity is conducted by the DIMS Board or designated personnel at the appropriate time of year.


⇒ If green cemeteries don’t use gravesite markers, how can people find the grave of a family member?

With natural burial, families do not expect to visit the gravesite of a deceased family member. Nor do they expect to be able to find the grave, as the years go by and the native vegetation regenerates. Instead, when they visit the cemetery, they spend time in the area where a commemorative plaque or similar memorial has been placed. For the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery, this area is the Gathering Space. If, for any reason, the location of a particular grave was needed, the surveyed coordinates of the grave would be available in the Cemetery records.


Tree Trunks