The province has finally added a little clarity to the murky issue of scattering cremated remains in Manitoba rivers and lakes.
The provincial government indicated those wishing to honour the last wishes of a loved one or those wanting to maintain the traditions of their religious beliefs through the spreading of ashes can now be free to do so on provincially owned land.
It was never against the law to distribute the cremated ashes on Crown lands or waterways, but the custom had been met with confusion and misinformation in the past.
Back in May, MLA Mohinder Saran (Maples) introduced a motion in the legislature allowing families who wish to scatter the remains on Crown land and waterways be freely allowed to do so.
While cremation is controlled under the province's Cremation Act, there was no distinctive policy on what could be done with the ashes, thus leading to the confusion. At the time of his motion, Saran indicated that it was an issue of religious rights, particularly among Hindus whose religion instructs cremation followed by the presentation of the ashes into the water. He noted that Alberta, Newfoundland and Ontario already had similar ‘ash’ policies in place.
"Families were uncertain about their rights at a time when they were mourning the loss of loved one," Saran said in a statement issued Saturday. "Now they can be true to their cultural and spiritual heritage and honour their deceased family members without worrying whether they are breaking the law."
According to the new policy, "human remains that have been properly cremated may be scattered on unoccupied provincial government-owned Crown land or water, including provincial parks, without official government approval. Care must be taken to ensure that cremated remains are not scattered near drinking water or recreational water activities, such as swimming areas."
Also of note: The new language only applies to Crown lands and waterways. Those planning to scatter cremated remains on municipal land or water need to consult their local governments before doing so.