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Nova Scotia families shocked after decorations removed from loved ones’ graves – Halifax

Several family members of people buried in a Nova Scotia cemetery are heartbroken after discovering cut bushes, dug up flowers and sentimental items removed from their loved ones’ final resting place.

They said they had no idea about the Gaspereau Cemetery cleanup until after it happened.

Maggie Kalkman, whose grandparents are buried at the cemetery, lost her daughter to a miscarriage in 2017. The child was buried with Kalkman’s grandmother and a small stone was placed on the site in 2018.

Kalkman was shocked when her boyfriend discovered a Facebook post in late April showing photos of various grave decorations that had been removed from the plots, including her daughter’s headstone.

“I couldn’t believe they moved it,” she said. “All I could see was him leaning against the shed and I just… it was hard.”

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A memorial stone honoring Maggie Kalkman’s daughter was removed from her grave without Kalkman’s knowledge.

Submitted

She managed to retrieve the stone before it was thrown away, but she is still angry because it was moved. Kalkman said it reminded him of the painful day his daughter died.

“When I found out about this, it triggered the day I lost her…for two weeks now, it’s all I can think about,” she said. “I try not to, but her stone is now in my apartment, so I walk past her every day when she’s supposed to be here. It was the only place I could come and be with her.

She said her uncle contacted the people who maintain the cemetery and was told they could put the headstone back, but she’s hanging on to it for now.

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“I’m too scared to put it back in because I’m afraid they’re going to take it away again,” Kalkman said.

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It’s a similar story for Rebecca Crisp. She also discovered through Facebook – rather than the committee that maintains the cemetery – that the daffodils the family had planted at her brother’s resting place had been uprooted.

Her brother died suddenly in the fall and the flowers were meant to be a “lovely symbol” of her brother’s childhood.

“When he was very little, he would go down to the bottom of the garden, take the daffodils and eat them,” she remembers with a smile.

“We planted the daffodils so that they would bloom on his birthday. And we never saw them flower.

Rebecca Crisp says the daffodils her family planted for her brother, who died in the fall, have been dug up.

Zack Power/Global News

Like Kalkman, she said she received no communication regarding the “invasive” removal of her brother’s flowers.

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“People have the right to grieve in their own way, and that has been taken away by someone else’s decision,” she said. “It’s a very personal thing, how to grieve, and that’s been taken away from so many people here.”

Jack Joudrey, a member of the committee that maintains the cemetery, told Global News the decorations were removed because gardeners were having difficulty maintaining the cemetery in its current state.

“With mowing, leaf raking, etc., it becomes very tedious and even dangerous for the contractor doing it,” he said.

Joudrey said the committee published notices in the local newspaper and placed posters around the community before the cleanup began.

He also said some families had been contacted directly, but could not do so with everyone due to the large number of graves, some dating back centuries.

“We did our best to try to get the word out that this was going to take effect,” he said, adding that the committee was also contacted by families happy with the appearance of the cemetery.

“Anger and anger of the people”

But Melissa Eye, whose family lost a sentimental item during the cleanup process, said communication was insufficient.

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She said she doesn’t live in the community so she hasn’t seen the notices about the cleanup. This was also not announced on social media.

“It’s just hallowed ground. You don’t come here to disrupt it and not respect it as it was,” she said.

Eye’s in-laws are buried in the cemetery and a glass roof on his mother-in-law’s plot was destroyed during the cleanup.

She said her mother-in-law bought it to place on her husband’s grave, but she didn’t have access to it before she died in August.

“We found it at her house and put it up in memory of her and in honor of her father, and now it’s broken,” Eye said.

“Like my husband said, we could replace it, but it’s not the same. It was something she bought, and now she’s gone. So it’s not really replaceable in the same sense.

Melissa Eye says an irreplaceable glass tray purchased by her late mother-in-law was destroyed during the cleanup.

Zack Power/Global News

She said she spoke with several other families whose sentimental items were moved or destroyed during the cleanup, including veterans’ crosses that were thrown away.

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“It was just a lot of anger and anger among people,” she said.

Joudrey acknowledged that communication could have been better and said the committee was looking to improve its communications to better keep families informed about what is happening in the cemetery.

“Communication is the biggest and most difficult problem to solve,” he said.

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