For the first time in Canada, residents will have another option for a green burial – to become part of a living reef in the waters off British Columbia.
“It’s been in existence for about 15 years down in California and in November I got the rights to bring it up into Canada,” said Kevin Owens, director of Living Reef Memorial Canada.
The idea behind Living Reef is simple: cremated remains are placed into a mold, made into an artificial reef and then placed in the ocean.
“When Living Reef Memorial acquires the cremated remains of somebody, whether they’re sent directly from a family to Living Reef or from another funeral home, they are incorporated into a mold, which is consisting of seashells, low alkaline cement, sand and the human remains themselves,” explained Owens.
Right now there are multiple deployment sites around Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, one by Bowen Island and one in Semiahmoo Bay.
Prices range from $600 to $4,000.
Owens said the Living Reef Memorial is an alternative to scattering cremated remains.
“I’ve been a funeral director as well for about 20 years… and the amount of cremated remains that get placed into the ocean is huge,” he said. “There’s biodegradable urns, there’s people that just scatter on the beach. The cremated remains themselves are inert, they don’t do damage to the environment, unless you’re going to be pouring them directly onto a plant and that’s only because they have a really high sodium base and the salt actually damages plants. But the salt doesn’t affect the ocean, it’s like a teardrop. The amount that’s going in to the ocean isn’t a great volume.”
There are different options for the living reef, whether a person wants to be placed by themselves, with a loved one or their family.
Partial proceeds from the sale of the Living Reef Memorial also go to the Sea Turtle Rescue Project.
To learn more about the Living Reef Memorial, go to their website.