Big Lakes funds cemetery project

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County has committed to funding part of a project to list and preserve the names of people buried in the Grouard Cemetery.
At its regular meeting June 22, council approved a motion to contribute $36,222 to the Grouard Seniors Association [GSA] as requested to council at its regular meeting May 25.
Council will take the funds from the county’s Grouard Culture Reserve that was created to promote the history of Grouard.
As requested from the GSA, funds will be designated to download the names onto the website findagrave, which is used by many people who research their genealogy, GSA treasurer Monica Kreiner told council May 25.
The GSA hopes the website will create interest from the ancestors to visit the burial sites and attract tourism to the region, says Dave Reynolds, county director of corporate services.
“There’s been a lot of interest in that list,” said Kreiner, who is also co-chair of the cemetery committee.
A list of 1,234 names has been compiled of people buried from 1873-1994, she added.
People who mow the grass at the cemetery have noted almost every time they are there, someone comes to visit the cemetery, GSA president Pearl Sandor wrote in a letter to council.
“People have come from international destinations to visit the Native Culture Arts Centre, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church and the cemetery,” Sandor said.
“With the recent publicity around unmarked gravels related to Indian residential schools, places like Grouard are attracting additional attention.”
Kreiner said the club is working with the neigbouring Kapawe’no First Nation on its project to research 169 potential graves found on the site of the former Grouard Indian Residential School.
“We want to take pictures of all the graves,” Kreiner said.
“It will all be part of the mapping project.”
The cemetery project is budgeted by the GSA for $120,000, Reynolds told council.
Led by a research co-ordinator, the project also includes plans to create a memorial on site and host a celebration at the end of the project.

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