City of Iqaluit seeks public input on cemetery improvements

Feedback on future burial designs will be accepted until March 5

The Apex cemetery has been prone to flooding since it opened in 2014. The city is looking for feedback on how burials will be conducted at the site in the future. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

The City of Iqaluit is seeking public feedback on how to best improve the flood-prone Apex cemetery.

One approach would see new graves reinforced with heavy-duty plastic burial vaults that would be buried roughly a foot deep. These vaults would either be left as-is or accompanied by varying heights of stones alongside the graves, according to documents staff provided to members of the city’s cemetery advisory committee last week.

The vaults would secure coffins while also allowing permafrost to remain undisturbed, reducing the likelihood of flooding.

The second, more expensive approach is similar to the current burial practice of in-ground wooden supports but with the addition of insulation that would line the top and sides of the grave.

The two options were discussed Thursday during a meeting of the cemetery advisory committee.

Although both options are intended to reduce the amount of water that gets into graves, the insulated option may not fully solve the problem as it would still mean digging into the layers above the permafrost, the reports state.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Since the cemetery’s opening in 2014, residents have raised concerns about having to bury loved ones in muddy, water-filled graves.

Others have said they believe the $1.3 million graveyard’s boggy ground is a public safety risk.

In January 2020, the city’s cemetery advisory committee was created to help decide how to deal with these issues.

Last June, the committee was presented with a plan to use a material such as gravel to raise the cemetery site by three feet, while also improving drainage ditches around the site.

According to Amy Elgersma, the city’s chief administrative officer, that work is set to begin this summer.

The City of Iqaluit is considering four options for future burial designs. Three of those options involve using plastic burial vaults and the fourth option consists of additional grave insulation. (Image courtesy of the City of Iqaluit)

Every Child Matters, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The city is seeking feedback on both the future burial design options and the proposed site-wide improvements.

Those who would like to submit feedback can send an email to the city, write a letter and send it to PO Box 460, or call the city’s information line, 979-5603, between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

On Tuesday, February 22, between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. the city will also be taking questions on the CBC Radio Nipivut program, 979-6100.

The deadline for public feedback on the burial design options is Friday, March 5, at 4:30 p.m.

The next cemetery advisory committee meeting will be on June 17.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by David on

    Burial vault out of stainless steel or a burial liner would work best, rocks on top and sides would do next to nothing water comes from the side walls and bottom as much as top. Pump water out and lining bottom of the hole with sand and crushed stone would probably help. Also if water is getting in toxic chemicals from embalming fluid (formaldehyde) if used , can be seeping into ground water and contaminating soil?

    • Posted by Jimbo on

      No need to fret about toxic chemicals from embalming fluid. Bodies aren’t embalmed here. You have no choice but to shell out a few thousand dollars for a plain wood crate and someone to give your deceased loved one a ride from the hospital morgue to the cemetery.

      Can anyone tell me why this is? The undertaker (not sure if that is his official title or what) says he has to charge that so he can pay his staff. Perhaps he needs less staff? He is a very nice guy and sees terrible things, , so it pains me to write this. Not a personal attack.

  2. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Or simply open a cemetery on higher ground?? Assuming you can find engineers who know when the rock is too much to work with.

  3. Posted by 59009 on

    I say let everyone have a viking style burial…ship it out to sea then fire flame arrows.

    • Posted by UNGAVA on


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