Friday, March 6, 2015

Haida Gwaii Funeral issues raised in Legislature on Thursday

A situation that has evolved on Haida Gwaii in recent months currently finds local residents fending for themselves when it comes to Funeral preparations and even recovery of family remains, as a lack of certified funeral service options and moves from a provincial oversight agency makes for a growing and still unresolved issue across the islands.

The past arrangement of a volunteer on Haida Gwaii providing the service came to an end after Consumer Protection British Columbia stepped in. Advising residents of Haida Gwaii that no unlicensed funeral services are allowed in the province, ordering the volunteer to stop with his services.

A situation that has left residents of Haida Gwaii to have to make their own arrangements, with only a few pamphlets and some online information to guide them through the process.

On Thursday morning, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raised the concerns of many from Haida Gwaii in the Legislature, outlining the current situation for residents to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.

"Yesterday the Minister of Health suggested we didn't understand the unique problems facing residents of rural and small communities. So let's consider a challenge his government seems indifferent to. There are no licensed funeral services on Haida Gwaii, but for many years a volunteer filled the void, helping families with their deceased loved ones. 

 Recently Consumer Protection B.C. ordered him to stop helping grieving families. With the people of Haida Gwaii now at a loss, Northern Health issued a pamphlet for bereaved families. It suggests that they should obtain a casket, though it would need to be shipped to the island, or they could find a local carpenter. They should find a gravedigger, though none are listed in the Yellow Pages. 

Then they should collect the body from the hospital themselves. How many grieving families could possibly do these sorts of things? My question is to the Minister of Justice. Does she think these are the sorts of challenges that should face a community of 5,000 northern residents? -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice on availability of Funeral arrangement services on Haida Gwaii

Below, you can review the MLA's full list of questions for the Justice Minister.

Followed by the Minister's responses, a range of observations from the Government side that at the moment, don't seem to offer up much of a solution for those living on Haida Gwaii.

The full transcript of the exchange between the two can also be read through the Legislature Hansard record, it starts at the 1040 mark of the Thursday morning Question period.

For more items related to developments from the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.

1 comment:

  1. Why is CP-BC insisting that families are only allowed the extremes of ‘do it yourself’ (and only with inexperienced help), or ‘hand it over to a funeral director’? This only seems to serve the interests of the funeral industry, not of families (according to their location or values).