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Woman making end of life plans upset aquamation isn't an option in Manitoba

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Death is a topic that might not be something people want to talk about, but planning can be needed for end of life steps.

When the time comes, people will have to choose between burial and cremation, but there are other options available in Canada and the United States.

One process that can lower the carbon footprint is called aquamation. It's available in a lot jurisdictions but not Manitoba.

Aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis is a process using water, heat and alkalinity to turn the body into powder. It's a more eco-friendly option, using less energy and gas than cremation.

Suzyn Hewitt, who is living with end-stage bone cancer, said she is planning this route when the time comes.

"Two to four months, two to six months (to live), and that's the deal," said Hewitt.

She's been spending some time planning her final goodbye and determined burial and cremation weren't the options for her.

"I'm afraid of bugs," she said. "I am terrified of fire."

She landed on the option of aquamation, but doesn't understand why the option isn't available in Manitoba.

"I don't understand why we don't have that choice and Saskatchewan does."

The Manitoba Funeral Service Association says it has been asking the province to add it as a service for 12 years.

"I do find it odd we don't have it yet. It seems like it would be a very simple thing to be able to sit down and add this as a disposition method," said Kevin Sweryd, the president of the association.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the province said, "The government has committed to modernizing the bereavement legislation and comprehensive consultations – which the government will be undertaking. Research and analysis of alternatives to traditional burial and cremation, along with discussion involving consumers, industry and stakeholders, will be undertaken."

Hewitt said it is too late for that for her.

"I don't have the time. Number two, I don't have the energy to be following up on it," she said.

Despite not having the services in the province, Hewitt will get her wish. She has arranged to have her remains brought to Swift Current where she can have the disposition of her choice.

The province didn't provide a timetable on when consultations will begin and the funeral association suggests people contact their MLA if they want aquamation to be allowed in the province.

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