Earth moving equipment in the Ootischenia Doukhobor Cemetery is no cause for alarm, according to Peter Zaitsoff, one of three people on the cemetery’s board.
On Thursday, Oct. 21 a complaint was called in to the RCMP, who attended and spoke with Zaitsoff about the work being done. The Castlegar News spoke with Zaitsoff at the site shortly after.
“What we’ve done, is mainly just the grooming portion of the Ootischenia Cemetery,” said Zaitsoff. “This is our first phase on the south side. There are very, very few headstones on this section of property and all of the headstones present were measured, marked and removed and will be placed back on the spots they were located originally.”
The approximately five-acre site, located on Waterloo Road in Ootischenia, was established in 1908. Zaitsoff said they hope to erect a plaque identifying the section as the original gravesite.
“Before, people never marked their graves at all,” he said. “They never registered their deaths even. [Some of these] are unknown at this time.”
Zaitsoff said the equipment is “just skimming the top” of the ground and levelling it for grooming purposes. He expected the work would take about three or four days.
“The thick weed on there is unmanageable,” he said. “So, this is more for the esthetics for the people who come to our local gravesite as well as the surrounding community. So when they look at it, it’s respectable.”
Shortly after the RCMP attended, Zaitsoff said they received a call from the senior compliance officer of Consumer Protection BC, the regulatory authority in B.C. that is responsible for the administration of the acts and laws around cemeteries, and was advised they proceed with the work.
Zaitsoff said there are only a handful of people who maintain the grounds and the area in the southwest corner was becoming a maintenance issue.
According to information found at www.doukhobor.org/Cemetery-Ootischenia.htm the majority of the 853 interments have no marker and many of the mounds have been levelled.