Veterans’ gravesites across the Peace Country will be getting a face-lift between now and the end of October. Bear Creek Funeral Home has been awarded a contract from Veterans Affairs Canada to provide maintenance services for veterans’ grave markers.
Part of a larger project to restore veterans’ gravesites across Canada, cemeteries in the City and County of Grande Prairie, and the Municipal Districts of Greenview, Saddle Hills, Spirit River, Birch Hills, Fairview, Smoky River, and Peace River will be tended to. Bear Creek Funeral Home owner Eunice Friesen says the project will include anything from basic cleanings to straightening headstones, to full replacements.
“What better way to honour these veterans, some of whom gave their lives in wartime and others who didn’t,” she says.
The contract was secured through a federal bid process, to which Friesen jokes she spent hours agonizing over how to approach the undertaking, as well as arranging transportation around the Peace Country to see it through.
“I had to organize how we could best get this done, and also economically because it is federal taxpayer dollars that are paying for this through Veterans Affairs,” she says.
The requirement for restoration efforts to gravesites and tombstones will often vary from location to location based on a number of factors including weather, groundwater, and wildlife activity. Friesen adds some sites might require regular maintenance, while others will hold true for decades.
“Some [headstones] can be 40 years old and they are as straight and true as the day we put them in. We have one we installed a couple of years ago that, because of the groundwater, every time we are out at that cemetery we straighten it again.”
Friesen says some restorations have already been completed in the Grande Prairie Cemetery, and the project has thus far begun to extend west outside the city of Grande Prairie.