January 29, 2016 2:34 pm
Updated: January 29, 2016 4:41 pm

Wrong casket shipped to Manitoba First Nation, chiefs call for change

David McDougall, Chief of St Theresa First Nation and Peter Harper, cousin of Helena McDougall.

Adrian Cheung / Global News

WINNIPEG — A family and Manitoba First Nations chiefs are upset with Perimeter Aviation, an airline which holds charter flights to remote Manitoba communities, after a mix up that saw their loved one left behind.

Helena McDougall was originally from Red Sucker Lake First Nation and she died in Winnipeg on January 23. Three days later, her relatives, the Harper Family, flew out of Winnipeg to take her body back to Red Sucker Lake.

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While enroute to the community, Perimeter Aviation found out they had instead loaded an empty casket on the flight, while McDougall’s casket remained in a Winnipeg hangar.

The Harper family was told of the mistake when they landed and were “devastated”, according to a news release sent by a number of communities including Red Sucker Lake First Nation, Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation and St. Theresa Point First Nation.

McDougall’s body was flown out later that afternoon.

But communities are calling for change and expressed “their dismay and disappointment with the treatment of the Harper family.”

Island Lake First Nations leaders said similar incidents have happened in the past and that they have already spoken about their concerns with management of Perimeter Aviation.

But they say the airline has “recently become lackadaisical and indifferent to concerns brought forth.”

Perimeter Aviation has not responded to Global News’ calls for comment on the matter.

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