Canadian Funeral Customs and Traditions

Funeral customs and rituals are often influenced by religious and cultural traditions. As such, funeral rituals differ from one religious group to another, even in Canada.Typically, the official funeral ceremony in Canada includes the viewing, the service, and the burial.


Pre-death Arrangements

Pre-death arrangements can also be made by a person through his/her will. The country’s very strict in making sure that these provisions must be met after the person’s death, especially if it includes donating one’s body parts. Nonetheless, this can still be countered by a family member when traditions and religion are used as the basis for the counter argument.

For those who are members of the police or the armed forces, the family and institution should agree on the funeral. Moreover, public memorials and state funerals are often conducted for public officials. This is important to give the public the opportunity to mourn.



The wake or the visitation are often attended by the family, friends, and community that the person belongs. The viewing is not considered as a formal tradition. Many Canadians view it as a social gathering which is often held before the funeral.

The visitors during the viewing pay their respect to the friends and family of the deceased. In order to remember, the room will be decorated with the photos of the deceased and flowers, too. Regarding the casket, the wife or the closest relative of the deceased will decide whether to open or close the casket during the viewing.


Funeral Service

For the Roman Catholics and Orthodox, a service will be held in the church with the presence of the deceased. The majority of the religions consider the church as the appropriate place to conduct a service for the dead. The coffin also remains closed during the funeral service.

On the other hand, the Muslims conduct their last prayer for the deceased either in the local mosque or the home of the deceased. After which, the body will immediately be transported to the cemetery.

Nonetheless, funeral services have been declining in the Canada in the past 20 years. The reasons for this include delayed burial or the family’s decision to have a private celebration.



The burial is done right after the traditional funeral service. The majority of the internment in Canada are ground burial which is still considered as the ethical and religious way by many. Some families or part of the will of the deceased often prefer cremation. However, the rate of cremation in Canada is still low because families still prefer the traditional burial practices.

The cemetery staff will assist the relatives and friends of the deceased to carry the coffin from the church to the hearse. From the hearse, the coffin will again be carried to the gravesite.

The family may opt to have a tombstone in the grave site. However, it’s still important to consider the laws governing the cemetery. Some cemeteries in Canada are governed by the ethnic and sectarian membership, which must be adhered by the friends and family of the deceased.



The majority of the Canadians consider the traditional burial as the last public occasion they will host for the deceased. The family and friends then visit the gravesite privately.


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