Tsiigehtchic to bring in engineer to address cemetery erosion

Tsiigehtchic plans to bring in an engineer later this year to provide advice on how to deal with erosion affecting its cemetery.

The Beaufort Delta community’s cemetery sits on a hillside that borders the Arctic Red River. Erosion has been eating away at the hillside and bones from the graves closest to the river have been exposed more than once, Mickey Andre, Tsiigehtchic’s foreman, told Cabin Radio last year.

Andre worries the entire hillside will eventually collapse.


When remains were first exposed, about a decade ago, posts were installed in the ground to stabilize the hill, Chief Phillip Blake previously told Cabin Radio. Since then, the community has been covering remains back up when they emerge – an approach Jeff Mercier, Tsiigehtchic’s senior administrative officer, has called a “band-aid solution.”

The community has been exploring options that might better address the issue.

Late last year, Mercier met with environmental non-profit Ecology North to discuss possible solutions. He said suggested fixes included planting willows and grasses along the slope to help stabilize the riverbank, building a retaining wall, and covering the hillside with big, concrete slabs.

Although cost estimates have not been established for each option, Mercier said some solutions are likely to be prohibitively expensive. Laying down slabs of concrete, for example, would involve renting a crane and a barge in addition to the cost of trucking in all the material.

“The expense is over the top,” Mercier said.


The community wants to see if an engineer might provide better ideas, he said, alongside cost estimates for different possible solutions.

Bringing in an engineer will take time. They will need to see the hillside to get a sense of the situation, Mercier said – a hillside currently covered in snow.

“We’re waiting for the snow to melt,” he said, adding that the plan is to bring someone into the community in late spring.

“This has to be nipped in the bud.”