February 15, 2018 12:15 pm
Updated: February 15, 2018 2:47 pm

Man who left Quebec hospital with father’s body was determined to bury him

A sign for the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve.


A spat over a death certificate prompted a man to abruptly leave a Montreal-area hospital with the body of his deceased father earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for the Anna-Laberge Hospital in Chateauguay said Thursday the deceased arrived by ambulance from the nearby Kahnawake Mohawk territory on Tuesday.

The family were hoping to get a certificate before repatriating the body for a quick burial by the end of the day, as per the son’s beliefs.

Story continues below

READ MORE: ‘Marry out, move out’ Kahnawake rule challenged in Longueuil courthouse

But the hospital explained the deceased would have to be admitted and that the body could not be released to anyone but an accredited funeral facility.

“For us, how it works is from the moment a body is admitted at the hospital, we have the responsibility, legally, to release it to an accredited funeral home,” spokeswoman Jade St-Jean said.

“There are rules for conserving the body — for public health reasons as well as preserving the dignity of the person.”

The family refused to have the father admitted and St-Jean said administrators were sensitive to the situation, with a team trying to find a solution that would respect the family’s beliefs and the hospital’s legal obligations.

READ MORE: Three Kahnawake sisters give birth within 44 hours

“While we were doing that, someone left with the body so we called the authorities at that point,” St-Jean said, adding no certificate was issued.

The incident came to light after the deceased man’s son chronicled the incident and its aftermath in a series of videos on his Facebook page and on YouTube.

In a first video, the man confirmed he was determined to bury his father before sundown Tuesday and didn’t allow hospital officials to admit the body or touch it.

“The bureaucracy of Anna-Laberge is saying they are not going to release him if we send him in to get declared dead,” the son said, adding a local funeral home declined to pick up the body if it was only to transport it.

READ MORE: Cross-Canada expedition reaches out to Montreal Mohawks

In two subsequent videos, he confirmed leaving with the body in the back seat of a car and burying him as intended because he was adamant he did want his father’s body preserved in any way.

“This is the way that our people are supposed to go,” he said.

“They are not supposed to be planted in the ground with embalming fluid to poison the ground, the earth. A body can only be for one day. So when your loved one dies in the morning, they are to be buried by the end of the day.”

He did not return a call seeking further comment.

Police in Châteauguay, south of Montreal, confirmed they are investigating.

READ MORE: The McGill varsity team and Kahnawake Survival School recreate ‘old time’ lacrosse game

Spokeswoman Nathalie Langevin said they were called on Tuesday and have since been gathering information about what happened.

Langevin said police also spoke with the coroner’s office and the Crown as part of the probe.

“We’re trying to establish the facts and we have a lot of things to verify,” she said.

St-Jean said the incident was a first for the hospital.

She said they would like to meet with Kahnawake community members to better understand practices and avoid similar incidents.



© 2018 The Canadian Press

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.