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An update on the Galiano Cemetery. August 2023

Last October the Cemetery Committee published an article outlining the process we are involved in for the continuing care and use of the Galiano Cemetery which includes the Ralph and Clara Stevens Extension.

Because of the extensive history of the land and its significance to thousands of years of use by the Indigenous nations in the Salish Sea, and its subsequent protection by the BC Heritage Conservation Act, we had suspended any interments pending further archaeological information. This information is dependent upon obtaining a permit for archaeological exploration, which is still in process. This process involves not only a written application, but the Archaeology Branch also consults with First Nations who have an interest in the area.

Our hope is that once a permit is obtained, we can explore a limited area within the Cemetery to complete interments of cremated remains of Galiano residents whose families have been patiently waiting for the time they can inter the ashes of their loved ones. Those interments, if allowed by the permit and archaeological examination of the defined space, will take place over time, as each excavation must be carried out by an archaeologist. This will therefore be a slow process, but we will do our best to move forward with these interments, if permitted. Once those on the existing list have been completed, there will be no further interments in the original historic cemetery ground. The only exception to this is for those who have a previously interred family member, and want to put cremated remains in the same spot on top of the other remains. This is permissible because it does not disturb further ground.

Over the past many months, we have been discussing and planning for the use of the Ralph and Clara Stevens Extension, taking many factors into consideration:

  • The land has sacred significance to First Nations families. It was home to many of the surrounding nations and carries a strong cultural significance to many peoples that called this land home for thousands of years.
  • The land in the ‘extension’ holds an ecologically sensitive seasonal stream, and many plants traditionally used for healing.
  • While wanting to guard the precious land and all it holds, we also know the community needs space to remember their dear ones. Memorial space is important, but is also limited. We are not alone in facing the limitation of space for memorials. People everywhere are working toward creative ways to remember and honour lives lived, and provide memorial space for families who grieve.

To meet all these needs, of ancient sacred history, ecological sensitivity and compassionate grieving and memorial space, we have created a plan for the Ralph and Clara Stevens Extension that can do all this, by creating paths around and through the site, and defining areas where cremated remains (or biologically composted remains if that process becomes available locally) to be placed on the land. Memorial plaques may be installed on existing boulders if desired. A memorial board or book is also planned so that all who are remembered in the Extension can be recorded for public acknowledgment / record.

Time line:

Plans for the paths and areas for spreading ashes is in process. A plan has been drafted by knowledge keepers and family members of the Georgeson family, which we are currently reviewing and making plans for construction and implementation.

When the plan has been completed, and the land is ready, you may make a request to the Cemetery Committee to have your family member’s remains spread in the appropriate area, and you can then make arrangements for a memorial plaque if desired. No statues or other monuments or decor is permitted in this area in order to preserve its natural beauty.

It is our hope that this information is helpful in understanding the process and progress being made, albeit slowly.

Upon Rev’d Sarah Tweedale’s retirement, the Regional Archdeacon, Lon Towstego will chair the Cemetery Committee. If you have questions about the ongoing process, you can be in touch with him by email at  Or  you may wish to contact Mark Oldnall, Diocesan Cemeteries Manager or Canon Dr. Brendon Neilson, Executive Director of the Diocese of BC. Their emails are and

Rev’d Sarah Tweedale (retired)  and the Cemetery Committee.