Montreal

Montreal Muslim Cemetery to provide local space for traditional burials

A new section of the Laval Cemetery will allow Montreal-area Muslims to be buried according to religious and cultural traditions, including being buried facing Mecca.

Multi-faith cemetery in Laval has 3,000 spots for Muslims

Members of the Montreal-area's Muslim community inaugurated the new 3,000-plot cemetery in Laval on Sunday. (Tanya Birkbeck/CBC)

The new Montreal Muslim Cemetery was inaugurated Sunday afternoon, finally giving Montreal Muslims a place to be buried according to religious and cultural traditions, including being buried facing Mecca.

We are all the same in the death, all the same. We all finish in the same way, so here it is the real symbol of humanity.- Maria Mourani

It's located in the Laval Cemetery, which also has sections for Christians and Jewish people.

"We are all the same in the death, all the same. We all finish in the same way, so here it is the real symbol of humanity. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, people who don't have religion — we are all here in the same place," said NDP candidate Maria Mourani, who was invited to the inauguration.

The movement to build the cemetery came about when a group of Montreal Muslims were not satisfied with the condition of the existing Muslim cemetery in the Montreal area.

Many families were opting to repatriate their loved ones to their countries of origin for lack of a burial space here in Canada.

Now, Muslims who were at today's inauguration ceremony say they feel reassured to know they have a final resting place here in Quebec. The new cemetery has 3,000 plots for Muslims.

Finding a resting place at home

Jacques Poirier, the president of the Magnus Poirier funeral home that manages the cemetery, said he and his staff were proud and happy to welcome Muslims into their cemetery.

Muslim Burial Association founder Hadjira Belkacem called the space a little piece of paradise, with birds and trees.

The new cemetery, part of the Laval Cemetery, will have 3,000 spots for Muslims. (Tanya Birkbeck/CBC)

"It's human to want to be buried with our traditions. But what was important was that we did not want to be separate. We wanted to be where other people [of other faiths] are also buried," she said.

Belkacem said it was important to her to be buried at home, in Quebec.

"I want to be buried in Quebec. It's my country. It's the country that welcomed me, that gave me many opportunities and the chance to have a new life. A wonderful life with my children and with my grandchildren, I hope," she said.

Some plots in the cemetery have already been reserved, and the first burial is expected to take place Monday.

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