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Foreigners help care for century-old cemetery in Taiwan

2014/08/23 22:29:10

Canada's representative to Taiwan Kathleen Mackay. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Taiwan)

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) Tomb sweeping is one of the most important annual activities for Taiwanese families, but the tradition is not unique to locals and has also been adopted by the foreign community.

Kathleen Mackay, Canada's representative to Taiwan, has been seen leading a group of foreigners to work under the hot sun at the Danshui Foreign Cemetery in New Taipei, which was consecrated in the early 1870s and where many Canadians are buried.

The foreigners, many of whom bring their young children, can be seen weeding and cleaning the graves of these unrelated individuals and re-painting the writing on the headstones.

According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (CCCT), more than 70 graves are in the cemetery, around half of which belong to Canadians.

Originally managed by the British Consulate, the century-old cemetery was left to lie unattended in the late 1970s, the CCCT said.

Since taking over responsibility for the care of the cemetery in 1984, the CCCT has held an annual tomb sweeping activity to help keep the place in good shape, the business group said.

Over the years, the CCCT has spent over NT$1 million on repairs to the cemetery, which was officially declared a historical site in 1998.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Y.F. Low)