Human bones scattered on N.S. beach as erosion destroys 200-year-old cemetery
Published Monday, April 21, 2014 7:07PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 21, 2014 9:34PM EDT
Erosion is destroying a 200-year-old clifftop cemetery in Nova Scotia, exposing human remains and washing some of them out into the ocean.
Residents of the Cape Breton community say they need government help to stop the land erosion at the site.
The caretaker of the Ingonish graveyard found exposed human skulls and bones at the site over the weekend. Other bones were scattered along the beach below.
Hector Murphy told CTV Atlantic that some of the human remains have drifted out to the ocean.
“It’s dignity if nothing else,” he said. “You have people that are … going to sea. There is nothing we can do about it.”
Murphy said the clifftop graves have been eroding for the past 50 years. It’s believed that the graveyard dates back about 200 years.
“The sea comes in and washes it out from underneath,” he said. “That’s why we were trying to get armour stone put along the shore here.”
Murphy said he has been lobbying the government for help for years, with no results. The estimated cost of the work needed to stop the erosion of the graveyard is about $80,000.
The United Church of Canada owns the property, but it’s not clear who’s responsible for addressing the problem.
The church minister told CTV Atlantic that her parish has a small cemetery trust fund, but it doesn’t cover erosion. She is also calling on the government to help.
Victoria County Coun. Wayne Budge said the issue has never been formally brought before council, but it will be discussed at the next meeting.
"I think it’s terrible. We have human remains coming out of a bank. They’re our ancestors,” he said.
Budge said he’s confident that a solution can be found
“We have to look at it and then we have to try and get other levels of government to support us as well,” he said.