Cambridge resident pushes for permission to spread ashes in Grand River

For two years, Cambridge resident Prakash Venkataraman has been trying to legalize the act of scattering cremated human remains into the Grand River.

Venkataraman, a member of the Hindu community, approached city council in April of 2021 with a request to allow the act; but on Tuesday council recommended not to proceed with the motion.

"It's not in the city's jurisdiction and the support from the Indigenous communities wasn't there," said Nicholas Ermeta, ward 8 councillor with the City of Cambridge.

"Everybody claims that it's not in their jurisdiction," Venkataraman told CTV News. "I respect that. My argument was as it is not in your authority, you don’t have any jurisdiction to say 'yes' or 'no'."

Venkataraman asked for council's support in setting a meeting between local Indigenous and Hindu communities, but he said the city denied the request.

"I had put forward an amendment that we reach out to Six Nations and we have a meeting between Indigenous communities, the City of Cambridge, the Region of Waterloo, the [Grand River Conservation Authority]," Ermeta said.

The motion was not seconded and failed as a result.

"It is disappointing to hear that the city turned down this community member's request for facilitating that dialogue," said Veronica Martisius, a Six Nations member who grew up along the Grand River. "I think that's a really big time missed opportunity. Especially in this day and age of reconciliation."

Martisius said she wouldn't permit the act of spreading remains in the Grand River, but believes dialogue is important.

"Just so that members of the Hindu community could have a better understanding and appreciation of the river and our relationship with it. We have an obligation to protect our lands and waters.

Venkataraman said now it's up to the Hindu community to take initiative and discuss the matter with local Indigenous communities.

"This is not the first stop, rather a comma, and this advocacy will continue," Venkataraman said.