A Ponoka family was shocked and hurt to discover the cremated remains of their loved one had been delivered to a community mailbox.
The remains were sent through Canada Post due to circumstances related to COVID-19 but the family had been expecting the package to come to their door.
Ponoka residents Michael Okeymaw and his mother Susan Herrera travelled to Yakima, Washington to Bill Herrera, Susan’s father and Okeymaw’s grandfather to say their goodbyes. He was in organ failure and passed from COVID-19 related causes.
Okeymaw and his mother were in isolation for 14 days upon returning home, during which time Herrera passed away.
“We couldn’t go down as we just returned and were in isolation,” said Okeymaw.
There was no funeral and his remains were cremated and the funeral home in the States arranged for the remains to be sent to the family by mail.
According to Okeymaw, they were provided with a tracking number and told they would have to sign for the package.
Following the tracking number, they expected the package to arrive on Monday, Jan. 25.
“My mother … waited at home all day so she wouldn’t miss the delivery and could sign for him,” said Okeymaw.
When he was off from work, he checked the community mailbox as he always does, and there was a key in his box for the larger mailbox.
“I took that key, opened up the box and saw my grandfather’s remains in there.”
The package was clearly marked as cremated remains.
“I showed my mother and told her I found him in the mailbox. She had the look on her face of such hurt. She felt that her father’s remains were disrespected. Rightfully so,” said Okeymaw.
“I felt her pain and I felt disrespected too.”
Okeymaw complained to Canada Post and a ticket was opened on the incident.
The agent was apologetic and responded that the first point of delivery is to a community mailbox unless there is a delivery preference of delivery to a front door.
Okeymaw says he didn’t know what to think and still felt terrible about it.
“I know it may seem minor, and I’m glad that I got his remains after all, but I feel so disrespected. And worse is that my mother was so hurt from this,” he said.
“I just don’t want it to happen to anyone else. It’s not right, how they treated his remains.”
Ponoka News reached out for a comment from Canada Post on Jan. 26 and was advised the matter was being looked into.
Okeymaw says Canada Post called his mother on Jan. 28 and apologized and expressed their condolences to her.
“My mother was very happy that they contacted her.”
“This is a very unfortunate situation,” said Nicole Lecompte, Canada Post media relations in a response provided to Ponoka News on Jan. 29.
“We understand the importance of this item to our customer. And, although procedures were followed in this instance, we agree that we could have done more for our customer, and we are following up internally on the matter.
“This item, which originated from the United States, did require a signature; however, in accordance with our current procedures and safety protocols implemented due to COVID-19, the item was delivered to the customer’s community mailbox. Alternatively, the customer would have been left a delivery notice card to pick up the item at the post office.
“We have spoken with the customer offering our sincere apologies during this difficult time and regret any further stress this incident may have caused.”