‘They’re taking up’: Groundhogs unearthing human stays in Montreal cemetery nightmare

2021-06-06 05:12:30

Guests to the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery say they’ve been greeted by a few disturbing surprises over the previous couple of weeks.

Patrizia Castiglione, who visits the burial floor thrice a yr to see her grandparents’ graves, mentioned a couple of days in the past when she visited, she was disgusted by what she noticed.

“I believe it’s actually unhappy for the households which have family members right here,” she informed International Information Saturday on the property.

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Castiglione and different households visiting the location Saturday walked by means of weeds, as much as waist excessive in some locations. She identified that shoppers anticipate to see the gravesites correctly maintained.

“They pay for a service,” she famous. “[Maintenance] is meant to be included.”

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There are different issues, in keeping with Castiglione, as properly Victor Sicuso, who went to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges to go to his son.

“Folks come right here to see their family members they usually discover bones and skulls,” he fumed.

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He blames groundhogs and pointed to a number of burrows close to his son’s resting place. He noticed one of many rodents because it popped out of 1 gap, which Sicuso later coated with stones.

Patrick Chartrand, spokesperson for the Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses du cimetière Notre-Dame des neiges, which represents the employees, mentioned the issue this yr is worse than ever.

“We’re seeing much more groundhogs,” he mentioned. “They’re taking up.”

Simply days in the past, one customer posted a video to social media purporting to point out unearthed bones and dentures on the floor of 1 grave.


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Final fall, there have been complaints about different groundhogs digging up human stays.

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Chartrand mentioned the issue is way worse this spring, and in keeping with him, it’s due to workers cuts on the cemetery in March when 26 jobs have been misplaced, affecting grass slicing and landscaping.

He admitted that groundhogs do stay on the cemetery however that there was a crew devoted to coping with the rodents and their burrows.

“The crew used to go part by part, once they see one, they plug it,” he mentioned.

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Based on him, they’d alert different groups, who would shortly re-bury human stays, however he mentioned the workers cuts have left only a handful of individuals to care for the 137 hectare property.

“Typically there’s 5 folks to chop the grass on this web site,” he claimed. “Are you able to think about? 5!”

He identified that the union and the cemetery are in contract negotiations and have been since 2019.

“The cemetery, like the remainder of Mount Royal, is dwelling to many animal species, corresponding to groundhogs. Most biologists acknowledge that we developed our metropolis on their land as a result of they’ve been in Montreal and on Mount Royal for hundreds of years,” a cemetery spokesperson mentioned in a press release.

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“Subsequently, groundhogs are reliable residents of Mount Royal and can’t be eliminated! They’ve rights and we should respect them as all companions of Les amis de la Montagne do. We have to coexist with them and revel in their presence.”


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The assertion didn’t deal with a query about workers cuts however claimed that there are about 100 workers. Neither did it say how many individuals are assigned to work on the grounds and what number of are assigned per shift.

On the cemetery’s web site, there’s a discover through which administration states that they’re delicate to the “inconvenience of getting human bones pushed to the floor whereas digging their burrows.”

They invite guests to make use of the customer support line (514-735-1361) to report any presence of above-ground bones on the Cemetery grounds.

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That discover upset Castiglione.

“That shouldn’t be as much as us,” she mentioned, combating again tears. “We don’t come right here to test if the bones are on the floor. We come right here — it’s a second of peace, it’s a second of remembering. It’s actually unhappy.”

Nonetheless, she plans to go to the graveyard extra typically to test on her grandparents’ resting place — simply in case.




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