Founded in 1913, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) is an International organization of over 1,500 members, composed of cremationists, funeral directors, funeral home operators and owners, cemeterians, industry suppliers and consultants. CANA members believe that cremation is preparation for memorialization.
The Cremation Association of North America was originally formed to promote the "modern way" and the "safe and hygienic way" of dealing with a dead human body. The focus was on cremation as a form of disposition and had nothing to do with the funeral and memorialization of the deceased.
At that time, and up into the early 1920's, cremation was the choice of the wealthy and the well-educated. All crematories were located on cemetery property and elaborate columbariums were built for the elaborate urns then being used.
After it became apparent, through scientific investigation, that proper in-ground, full body burial was safe, cremation fell out of favor and remained in the 3 % to 5% range. It wasn't until the early 1980's that the rate reached double digits and started to increase on the average of about 8% annually.
In 1985, CANA, which had been monitoring the annual national and state cremation rates, projected the cremation rate for the year 2000 would be a little over 25%. This prediction made a real impact in the death care profession because that projected to over 600,000 cremations in 2000 compared to fewer than 300,000 in 1985.
CANA's projection was actually a little under the actual cremation percentage for 2000 as the rate was 26.19% with 629,362 cremations. Since 2000, CANA has projected the cremation rate to 2015 and 2025, which based on current confirmed figures of 2007 (34.78%) and preliminary 2008 figures (36.02%), stand at 46.04% for 2010 and 58.85% for 2025, which equates to 1,909,802 United States cremations in 2025.
A CANA survey done in 1998 showed that 26% of those cremated were Catholic, and recent survey results from other groups now put that figure at 30%, which would mean that approximately 420,000 Catholic cremations would occur in 2025, with over 250,000 Catholics being cremated in 2006.
- CANA members have recognized this steady growth of cremation and have been active in promoting the importance of memorialization when cremation is chosen.
- CANA is not a 'pro-cremation over burial' association, but is concerned with the proper treatment and respect for those who have chosen cremation and that cremation is preparation for memorialization.
CANA also feels that the word "cremains" should not be used when referring to "human cremated remains." "Cremains" has no real connection with the deceased whereas a loved one's "cremated remains" has a human connection.
A membership in CANA is the best way for any cremationist, funeral director or cemeterian to stay abreast of what is going on in cremation and how to deal with an aging population that is choosing cremation in greater and greater numbers.
CANA Code of Cremation Practice
In the practice of cremation, we believe:
- In dignity and respect in the care of the deceased, in compassion for the living who survive them, and in the memorialization of life;
- That a Cremation Authority should be responsible for creating and maintaining an atmosphere of respect at all times;
- That the greatest care should be taken in the appointment of crematory staff members, any of whom must not, by conduct or demeanor, bring the crematory or cremation into disrepute;
- That cremation should be considered as preparation for memorialization;
- That the dead of our society should be memorialized through a commemorative means suitable to the survivors.