By Emily Senger - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 0 Comments
Saskatchewan has adopted a new, greener burial method. Will the ‘ick factor’ keep it from catching on?
When a loved one dies there are usually two options: burial or cremation. Saskatchewan has added a third to the list that’s been billed as a greener way to dispose of the dead. For those wanting to keep track of their environmental impact into the afterlife, the carbon footprint of the process is 90 per cent less than that of flame cremation. And no chemicals are released into the air.
The procedure, called alkaline hydrolysis, uses a machine to immerse the body in a solution of water and an alkaline chemical—otherwise known as lye. The water is heated and machines add pressure. Over two to 12 hours the body disintegrates, leaving behind two by-products: bone fragments, similar to the ashes from flame cremation, and a sterile liquid solution, which, if the local municipality permits, can be flushed down the drain.
While the Funeral and Cremation Services Council of Saskatchewan has approved alkaline hydrolysis, no one has installed a machine yet, says chairman Todd Lumbard. “People don’t know much about it, so they’re not demanding it,” he says. There’s also the question of the “ick factor,” as one Saskatchewan funeral director told CTV News. Continue…
By Nicholas Köhler - Monday, September 5, 2011 at 11:35 AM - 10 Comments
The charismatic NDP leader’s sudden death unleashed six days of unprecedented mourning
When, a decade or so ago, his activism in support of same-sex marriage triggered death threats, Rev. Brent Hawkes would call his friend Jack Layton, the Toronto city councillor who, along with his wife and colleague Olivia Chow, had done so much to champion gay rights, and gave him the specifics. The bullies said they’d turn up at this or that event, and promised violence. Layton was always determined to show up. When Hawkes, wearing a bulletproof vest, officiated at the 2001 double wedding ceremony that eventually led to the legalization of gay marriage, Layton was there.
Now here they were again, Layton and Hawkes, on stage at Roy Thomson Hall. Layton was dead—“cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career,” as eulogist Stephen Lewis put it—his body within a flag-draped casket that over the last days, amid much pomp, had travelled to Parliament Hill, to Quebec, and to Toronto’s City Hall, where thousands came, waited to gaze upon him, many with tears in their eyes.
Before Hawkes was an audience composed of some of the most powerful people in Canada, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who, while in opposition, had been a leading antagonist in the fight for gay marriage. This was a state funeral—an extraordinary gesture normally reserved for past and present governors general, prime ministers and cabinet ministers, but one that Harper had offered Layton’s family. Hawkes did not exploit the moment—not to partisan ends, anyway. Rather, he dwelt on the way Layton’s life, at its best—despite his mistakes, his “normal imperfections,” to quote Lewis again—could be used as a model to live better. “If the Olympics can make us prouder Canadians, maybe Jack’s life can make us better Canadians,” Hawkes said, noting that Layton was always careful to ask after his husband, John. “It’s about remembering, about remembering to say, ‘Hi, Brent. How’s John doing?’ Hawkes paused, looking into the hall. “Hi, Prime Minister. How’s Laureen doing?”
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, September 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM - 1 Comment
‘I’ll call you’
At this year’s Toronto Pride parade on July 3, Rev. Brent …
‘I’ll call you’
At this year’s Toronto Pride parade on July 3, Rev. Brent Hawkes’s Metropolitan Community Church contingent was several groups ahead of the NDP. His group got to the end of the route and then Hawkes waited to watch the rest of the parade. When Jack Layton, who was being pulled in a rickshaw, spotted him, he gave him the sign for “I’ll call you.” The two met soon afterwards. It turned out Layton wanted to plan for the possibility of his death and asked Hawkes to officiate at his funeral. The gay pastor, who helped lead the crusade for same-sex marriage in Canada, was humbled. “You can get the head of the United Church. You could get a bishop,” Hawkes told Layton. The NDP leader insisted he wanted Hawkes. It would be a strong political statement. Hawkes notes that his friend “wasn’t afraid to embrace the edges of our community.” Layton, after all, is the politician who once had towels printed up promoting one of his early municipal campaigns; they were handed out in gay bathhouses.
She sang it at their wedding
Jack Layton died on Aug. 22 at 4:45 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. that day, former Parachute Club singer Lorraine Segato got the call requesting she perform her famous ’80s song Rise Up at the funeral. It was the song she had sung at Layton and Olivia Chow’s wedding in 1988. “They were both really partying with us on Queen Street in the early eighties,” recalls Segato. In 2004 at the Juno Awards in Edmonton, Segato arranged for Layton to meet the performers backstage. “He partied with us until three in the morning.” A few weeks later, Layton would be in full election mode.
By John Geddes - Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 19 Comments
An activist and an intellectual, Layton was the rare politician whose passion came from deep within
About a month after he led the NDP to its election breakthrough last May 2, Jack Layton was still at a loss to explain what had really happened on the campaign trail. The game-changing outcome was plain enough: his New Democrats had vaulted into second place for the first time ever, ahead of the Liberals. But what alchemy had occurred in the minds of so many Canadian voters, especially in Quebec, for Layton’s personal appeal to lift his party to government-in-waiting status?
Layton, a meticulous political pro who never went into an interview without a firm fix on what he wanted to say, for once seemed stymied by the question. “I’d go into the crowds and people would stop and have a word. There were a lot of personal words—I don’t know,” he said when Maclean’s asked him back in early June what had been different this time around. “There was certainly enthusiasm, but something deeper. I haven’t put my finger on the emotions, but there were more emotions there than in previous campaigns.”
More than even he might have realized. After his death last week following his swift second bout with cancer, those emotions found release as a national torrent of grief. And Layton had applied himself in his last days to channelling the outpouring to come. In an extraordinary merging of the deeply personal and frankly political, he worked with his advisers to ensure that his death drew attention to the convictions that drove him in life. Both the farewell letter they drafted and the funeral they planned aimed to inspire social democrats. Friends and family had often said that trying to draw a line between Layton’s public and private sides was difficult. In his passing, they became indistinguishable.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 10:15 PM - 0 Comments
Canadians gather at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto to mourn the loss of Jack Layton
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM - 4 Comments
The full details as per an official note sent out just now.
Canadians are invited to pay their respects to the Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
The Lying-in-State for Mr. Layton will take place in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, August 24 and Thursday, August 25. It will be open to the public from 12:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Canadians can also pay tribute to Mr. Layton as he lies in repose at Toronto City Hall on Friday, August 26 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, August 27 beginning at 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2011, at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. For more information on the State Funeral or to convey condolences to Mr. Layton’s family, Canadians can visit www.commemoration.gc.ca.
By Sonya Bell - Monday, August 30, 2010 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
When the time comes, will it be home or away?
It’s dusk on a Friday evening in Qunu, and the N2 highway is the village’s most happening scene. The locals linger at the road’s edge, forming a scattered crowd that includes gossiping grandmothers, flirtatious teenagers—and an entire flock of sheep. This is the village that raised Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s favourite son and first democratic president. He spent his earliest years on the edges of this same road, chasing friends up these rolling hills and minding the livestock that is still raised here—sheep, cattle, goats and chickens. But today, the youngsters at the roadside wear Converse sneakers, listen to Rihanna, and take pictures with their cellphones. “Put it on Facebook!” they insist when they see a shot they like.
Even in Qunu, which lies in one of the most remote and underdeveloped parts of South Africa, traditional Xhosa culture has adjusted to match the modernizing country. A newly married woman in the village still wears the wrap skirt and headdress that signify her status—unless she’s going into the city to work, in which case she can slip into a pair of pants. But one tradition that hasn’t changed is the custom that says a Xhosa man must be buried at home. This may prove a clashing point in South Africa one day soon, when the country buries its most celebrated citizen.
By Tom Henheffer - Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 10:17 PM - 8 Comments
Friends, family gather to honour one of the alleged victims of Col. Russell Williams
Belleville won’t be the same without Jessica Lloyd.
Black clad RCMP officers huddled in the cold and a crowd of photographers looked on from across the street as hundreds of friends, family members and well-wishers piled into the grey stucco chapel at the John R. Bush funeral home on Saturday to pay their final respects to the 27-year-old.
“If you really knew Jessica you knew that she had enough love in her life to touch everyone,” said her cousin, John Lloyd, one of two family members who spoke at the funeral. “She had that wonderful ‘joie de vivre’” added his sister Sarah.
The pair described Jessica as a strong willed, vibrant girl who embraced country living and loved the Toronto Maple leafs so much that she wanted to some day name one of her children “Tie.”
“She loved the beauty of an overnight frost in the countryside,” said Rev. Cathy Paul.
John Lloyd spoke about Jessica’s friendly rivalry with her brother over who had the fastest car, and told the story of his cousin dressing as Tina Turner for Halloween when she was seven.
He said someone asked her if being so heavily made up meant she was supposed to be a hooker.
“She stopped in her tracks, put her hands on her hips and said ‘Yes!’ … she didn’t even know what a hooker was,” he said. When Lloyd was reported missing last month her community rallied together, with volunteers canvassing her neighbourhood and plastering the region with missing persons posters.
“We tried to help as best we could,” says Michael Hayward, who attended the funeral and helped with the poster campaign.
Last week, Lloyd’s body was found off of a rural road in Tweed. Col. Russell Williams, commander of CFB Trenton, was charged with the murder. He’s also accused of killing Corporal Marie-France Comeau, and of sexually assaulting two other women.
The horror of Lloyd’s murder has seared everyone who knew her or her family.
“When I found out that she was deceased, there was such a tremendous sadness,” says Haywood.
“There’s a hole in everybody’s heart.” added Hayward’s wife, Gale.
Belleville is a part of the Highway of Heroes—its residents join with thousands to line the 401 each time a fallen soldier is repatriated—and anyone who grew up playing hockey would play in CFB Trenton’s arena. The close relationship between the base and the city have made the killings, especially of one of Belleville’s most well-known daughters, even more shocking.
“This weird betrayal is very deep in this community,” says Zack Werner, a judge on Canadian Idol who’s also the city’s weekend rock DJ. “It’s a very personal thing. … I think they’re going to feel that around here for a long time. A feeling of alienation. A feeling that it’s not their community anymore.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 4:17 PM - 14 Comments
Over the weekend, the Telegraph-Journal issued a second apology for its story about the Prime Minister’s wafer consumption.
In its troubled report on the communion service at former governor general Roméo LeBlanc’s funeral mass in July, The Telegraph-Journal said prominently, on the front page, that Monsignor Brian Henneberry, a senior Saint John priest, had “demanded” that Prime Minister Stephen Harper explain what he had done with the communion wafer that he had been given. The newspaper has determined that Monsignor Henneberry said no such thing and believes that the false assertion was wholly the product of improper editorial manipulation.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 11:19 AM - 0 Comments
Bruce Anderson goes out on a limb and suggests politicians are still human.
For more than twenty years, in focus groups in every corner of the country, I’ve listened to people tell me why they don’t like most politicians. Mostly, I’ve heard a vague sense that politicians just aren’t like other people. That they are so ruthless about advancing their personal agendas that they lack the abitlity or desire to truly understand the daily struggles and disappointments that most people endure. The irony is that many who express this view, if they’ve met their local Member of Parliament, say he or she is an exception. So, this perception of politicians as ego-centric aliens comes not from the cumulative experiences of MPs and their constituents. It’s built on the view of politicians that emerges through normal media coverage of the battles and controversies of politics. The focus on strategy, tactics, winning, relentless ambition and destroying opponents. Little wonder folks are suspicious of the kind of people who might spend all their time this way…
This was a funeral, and Obama was there to eulogize a man, to describe his life, to console his family, to share a perspective on what made Kennedy unique … This is a narrative about people in politics that we need a lot more of.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 10:51 PM - 38 Comments
CBC confirms that Shawna Richer, the Telegraph-Journal’s editor-in-chief, has been fired and James Irving is no longer publisher. CTV says Irving has been “temporarily suspended.” And Canwest reports the Prime Minister was not pursuing the matter legally.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:42 PM - 22 Comments
Glen Pearson thinks we might all move on.
I am a man of faith, though I’m quiet about it. I realize that such moments of solemnity such as the Roman Catholic mass are sacred affairs. But by all accounts, Stephen Harper is a religious man and hasn’t been hesitant to claim it. Yet whether he pocketed or ate the wafer is a matter for himself and his own conscience, especially at such a solemn occasion. To chastise him in such a way undermines the true meaning of both church and state. I’m with the Prime Minister on this one.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:20 PM - 27 Comments
Charlie Lewis investigates the proper handling of a communion wafer.
“We believe we are holding Jesus in our hands so to put Jesus in your pocket or to put Jesus on the ground [is serious]. If it falls on the ground it has to be consumed. We never throw Jesus out,” Mr. MacCarthy said. “I’ve been at services where the priest has gone to someone who has walked away with host and said I want to see you consume it. In my own parish the priest stood up one day and said he found a host in the parking lot. He was really angry.”