Parks Canada restores Kouchibouguac cemetery
New gravesites available for descendants of park residents
Former residents of Kouchibouguac, N.B. see the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery restoration project as a token of reconciliation.
Parks Canada spent the summer clearing fallen trees, cutting the grass and putting up a new fence at the graveyard. The work was done after former residents lobbied Parks Canada for months to restore the area.
"A year ago, it was very disgusting when we came here to visit our relatives that passed away," said Vicky Herbert, whose family was forced from the park. "The fence was all broken. It was a fence from 1950. Something had to be done."
"It's unbelievable that we got it, but we got it. So I'm sure all our parents and aunts and uncles and everybody is all looking down and saying 'yeah!'" said Terry Robichaud.
Robichaud grew up just down the road from the cemetery. The land was expropriated in 1969 to allow for the park's creation. About 1,200 people in 10 villages were affected by the move.
"That was a hard period for us," said Herbert.
She said the former residents deserve a place to lie in peace.
"To see that our people are buried here for Dad, my brother Paul-Emile, my sister Veronica – I wanted to do this for them."
Not only was the cemetery cleaned up, but Parks Canada has also agreed to expand the number of plots.
In January, 100 people were on a list, vying for one of 37 remaining spots. There is now room for about 100 more sites, and Parks Canada has committed to look at further expansion once those are close to being filled.
"My place is reserved," said Robichaud. "I'm coming back home. The government has given me the choice, I can come back and rest my bones where I was born."
The park has created an advisory committee to help foster better relations between the park and its former residents.