HONOURING THOSE WHO SERVE
Beechwood is home to the National Military Cemetery and the Ottawa Police Service Memorial Cemetery
For Manon Bourbeau, working at Beechwood Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Services is much more than a job.
Bourbeau is liaison to the National Military Cemetery and the Ottawa Police Service Memorial Cemetery, part of a team arranging funerals and memorials for the uniformed few who dedicated their lives to service.
She says it’s the best job she’s ever had a passion, and more.
“For me, it’s a calling,” says Bourbeau, 38. “It’s what I have to do. I love dealing with families. There’s a satisfaction at the end of the day that I have made a difference. I like the feeling I get from that.”
Bourbeau offers comfort and peace of mind to families of military and police members and veterans, acting as the go-between in arranging official ceremonies and memorials.
She navigates approval processes for services provided by the Department of National Defence that can include an honour guard, bugler, piper and padre. And she helps co-ordinate the purchase, production and installation of headstones that meet DND specifications.
All serving and honourably released members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Merchant Navy plus one family member are eligible for interment in the National Military Cemetery. More than 200 war dead are also buried there.
The National Military Cemetery at Beechwood contains four sections spread throughout the cemetery. These include a section managed by Veterans Affairs Canada, two Commonwealth War Grave sections and the newest section, the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces, managed by the Department of National Defence.
Military personnel from every province and territory have been buried at Beechwood since it was declared the National Military Cemetery in 2001. It currently has 12,000 spaces for both traditional interments and cremated remains. The graves cannot be pre-selected, and are not allocated on the basis of rank, service, regiment or personal preference.
Bourbeau can also arrange to have the urn or casket placed for visitation on the black granite plinth in the Hall of Colours, an area reserved for the exclusive use of military members and veterans.
Sunlight streams onto the plinth through the hall’s stainedglass window, donated by the Canadian Military Chaplains’ Association. The laid-up colours of Canadian military regiments hang around the room.
The Ottawa Police Memorial Cemetery was opened in 2015 for serving and retired sworn members of the service, as well as special constables, civilian members, board members and their families. Approvals are done through the Ottawa Police Services.
Bourbeau is on a committee fundraising and planning for a parade square and central memorial for the police cemetery. She says a columbarium will be erected down the road.
The Ottawa Police Service Memorial Cemetery Committee welcomes the support. The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation issues tax-deductible receipts for donations of $20 or more.
Beechwood is at the vanguard of an industry-wide movement toward prearranged funerals, an option that can save the confusion, pressure and heartache that can come with trying to coordinate last-minute logistics at emotional times.
Prearranging a funeral also locks in costs funeral prices double every decade and prevents survivors from emotional overspending. Prearrangement ensures your send-off will be conducted just the way you want it, as well as ensures a dignified and efficient funeral and interment.
Along with a trend toward cremation, Bourbeau says prearrangement is the biggest shift she’s seen in an industry where she started at a small-town funeral home 17 years ago. She “joined the Beechwood family” 12 years ago.
Since her career began, Bourbeau has noticed another change within the industry: “Nowadays, services are more a celebration of life than a traditional funeral,” she says. “And with the military, it warms the heart to hear their stories and see how they have shared so much and bonded just like a family.”
She’s at the forefront of a national campaign, ensuring veterans and military members across the country are aware of Beechwood’s role and availability.
Beechwood Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Services is owned by Beechwood Cemetery Foundation, a registered Canadian charity governed by a volunteer board of directors. All funds contribute to cemetery maintenance, preservation and enhancement.
The sprawling cemetery is the last resting place of many of the country’s great writers, explorers, inventors and entrepreneurs. They rest alongside soldiers, lawmakers, law-keepers and, most of all, the beloved.
There are 80,000 of them throughout the 143-year-old site, comprised of 65 hectares of greenspace, gardens and forests. They represent all races, faiths and cultures and every social status. Their headstones relate the epic story of the land beyond Beechwood’s boundaries.
The grounds, with their winding pathways, cascading gardens and majestic trees, are steeped in tradition and beauty.
For more information visit http://www.beechwoodottawa. ca/cemetery-burial-options/ sections-honouring-militaryand-police-services/the-national-military-cemetery-2/ or call 613-686-3660.
Manon Bourbeau, liaison to the National Military Cemetery and the Ottawa Police Service Memorial Cemetery at Beechwood.