Updated Guidelines for Scattering Cremated Ashes

The province has developed new guidelines governing the scattering of cremated ashes for families honouring the last wishes of a loved one or following cultural and religious traditions.

The updated guidelines, drafted after extensive consultation, will be released later this spring. Cremated ashes may be scattered on unoccupied provincial government-owned Crown land or water, including provincial parks. Care must be taken to ensure that ashes are not scattered near water treatment intakes and facilities, or places where recreational water activities occur.

“Our government is committed to ensuring the law supports individuals who wish to express their religious freedom. These new guidelines provide clear direction of where ashes may be scattered and support the freedom of Albertans to honour religious expression.”

~Christina Gray, Minister of Labour and MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods

“I’d like to thank the government for taking action on this issue. For far too long, previous governments ignored the plea of many multicultural communities. These new guidelines will now allow us to honour our deceased in a culturally appropriate way while still respecting the rule of law.”

~Gulzar Singh Nirman, president, Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha

While it has never been against the law to scatter ashes, the new guidelines will provide clarity to families who, in keeping with their cultural heritage and spiritual beliefs, wish to honour their deceased family members lawfully and respectfully. The new Alberta guidelines are similar to policies already in place in Manitoba and Ontario.

People are encouraged to consult a licensed funeral director about cremation options and acceptable methods of handling cremated remains. Options include:

  • Buying a compartment (niche) in a cemetery columbarium.
  • Buying a cemetery plot for burial of cremated remains.
  • Scattering cremated remains in a cemetery with the cemetery operator’s approval.
  • Scattering cremated remains on private land with a landowner’s permission.
  • Scattering cremated remains on unoccupied, provincial government-owned Crown land or water (including provincial parks) with no need for government consent.

The new guidelines only apply to provincially owned lands and waterways. Families wishing to scatter cremated remains on federal or municipal land or water should first consult their local governments.