Manitoba family wants answers after mother's urn turned out to be empty

Manitoba family wants answers after mother's urn turned out to be empty

A Manitoba family is looking for answers after discovering an urn that was supposed to contain their mother’s remains was empty.

Delores McDonald, known as Dot, passed away in January at the age of 86, and is remembered by her children as a “beautiful and kind-hearted woman” who loved to laugh and take care of everyone around her.

The McDonald children used an independent funeral director who arranged for cremation through Wheeler Funeral Home, a business placed in court-ordered receivership in March.

Valerie McDonald picked up her mother’s ashes in mid-May, and said she was accompanied by an inspector from the Funeral Board of Manitoba, with the receiver Lazer Grant Inc. handing over her mother’s urn.

At the time, McDonald wondered about how light the urn was but said the whole experience was clouded with a haze of grief, and she didn’t ever think it would be necessary to open it and see if the remains were there.

“The urn was still wrapped in bubble wrap,” said McDonald.

“I kind of picked it up and I thought, ‘Man that’s kind of light.’”

For two months, the McDonald siblings took turns caring for the urn, eventually passing it to Valerie’s brother Robert McDonald who decided to open the urn.

“I picked it up and it was pretty light,” said McDonald.

“I looked inside and nothing there.”

Robert immediately called his siblings, who said shock rippled through the family as they wondered where their mother’s ashes could be.

“Then where is she? Where did they put her? Did they just throw her out? Did they even cremate her?” wondered Darlene McDonald, another of Dot’s children.

“You don’t know anymore. You don’t know who to believe.”

Valerie McDonald got on the phone, contacting the Funeral Board of Manitoba, Lazer Grant Inc., and the family’s funeral director Rock Fontaine.

Fontaine told CTV News he only contracted services through Wheeler Funeral Home and that he was told whatever he had in the building would have to remain there after it went into receivership.

“If I was allowed in, it would have been looked after properly,” said Fontaine.

CTV News reached out to Lazer Grant Inc. and a company representative explained the urn that was released to the family by Lazer Grant staff and the Funeral Board of Manitoba “inadvertently did not contain the ashes within the urn.”

Shortly after meeting with CTV News, the McDonalds said they got a call from the Funeral Board of Manitoba to say the ashes had been located and they could come pick them up Friday morning from the building that was formerly Wheeler Funeral Home.

Valerie McDonald said the family is still left wondering why it took over three days for their mother’s ashes to be found, as the siblings were left worrying.

“We’re all very hurt and disappointed.”

Published at Thu, 26 Jul 2018 19:18:00 -0400