Funerals can be classified as State, national, civic or private funerals; the first three are known as official funerals. The Government of Québec is particularly involved in State and national funerals because it specifies the ceremonial for them and tasks their coordination to Le Protocole, under whose responsibilities those official funerals come.

In the case of civic funerals, Le Protocole acts with their organizers when government representatives wish to attend. Le Protocole may also act in a consulting capacity, should the organizers request it.

Types of funerals

When an eminent Québecker dies, the government may decide to recognize his or her contribution to Québec society by offering the family the option of a State or a national funeral.

The family may wish to hold the funeral privately and may refuse the government’s offer. They may also wish that a part of the funeral, such as the religious service or the tribute to the deceased, be public, though the wake will remain private. The same will apply for State or national funerals, even if not all the stages are public. A family may accept that a State or national funeral be held, but refuse media access to the service.

Funerals of different figures may not be comparable, because the families make different choices. For the government, the essential point is that the services organized reflect the wishes of the family.

By accepting the government’s option, the family gives a large number of Québeckers an opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased. By entrusting coordination of the funeral to Le Protocole, the government relieves the grieving family of the burden of organizing the funeral.

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Official funerals

State funerals are held only for former premiers, a serving premier, or, very exceptionally, for an ex-minister.

National funerals, by government decision, are held for personalities who have made their mark on the political, cultural or social life of Québec.

It is the ceremonial used, that is, the decorum and form that certain stages assume, that differentiates these two types of funeral. The more formal and detailed ceremonial is used for State funerals only.

State funerals

Formal ceremonial calls for the Legislative Council Chamber of the Parliament to be used for the lying in state of former or serving premiers. The public may visit to pay tribute to the deceased and offer its condolences to the family. The Québec flag is flown at half-mast when the death is announced and up until dusk of the day of the funeral, and this applies to all flags subject to the Regulation Respecting the Flag of Québec. Finally, officers of the Sûreté du Québec carry the bier, which is covered with the Québec flag.

National funerals

A simpler ceremonial is used for national funerals. The wake or lying in state of the remains may take place in a funeral home or in any other location judged appropriate, such as a museum, a community hall, and so on. This choice will take into consideration the area of activity in which the deceased left a mark. For instance, the entrance hall of a museum may be chosen for a representative of the cultural world. Flags subject to the Regulation will be lowered to half mast throughout the day of the funeral, from dawn to dusk.

Civic funerals

Civic funerals are organized by a group that comes to assist and support the family in its grief. It may be an association to which the deceased belonged, or a community deeply affected by the passing. For example, a police or firemen’s association may wish to pay tribute in a more official manner to one of its members who died in the performance of duty. A municipality may feel touched by the death of its mayor and decide to aid the bereaved family.

The government plays no part in organizing civic funerals. However, Le Protocole may be called on by the organizers to learn the procedure to be followed in such circumstances. If a member of the Cabinet wishes to attend the funeral, Le Protocole can contact the organizers to facilitate the minister’s participation and to agree on a moment when he or she can tender sympathy to the family.

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Last update: 2017-03-17 3:07:03 PM