August 7, 2018 5:59 pm
Updated: August 7, 2018 9:19 pm

Kelowna man pleads for help to bring his mom’s body back to homeland after she dies while visiting him


Chanan Williams hadn’t seen his mom for nearly three years.

The Jamaica-born man lives in Kelowna and has been working towards a diploma in Computer Information Systems at Okanagan College since 2013.

His mom was living in Jamaica.

Knowing his graduation was coming, Williams started saving money so that he could fly his 78-year-old mother to the Okanagan for the big occasion and a long overdue visit.

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“So in April I told her the news that I planned on having her attend the graduation,” Williams told Global News. “She was ecstatic. My sister even said she would not sleep a lot of the nights, she would just keep talking about it, she can’t wait to come. It would have also been her first time travelling because she has never travelled before.”

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Williams was thrilled to have his mother come visit and attend his graduation ceremony in June.

He said he’ll never forget the moment as he crossed the stage to receive his diploma.

“She was screaming from the crowd ‘that’s my baby’,” Williams said. “I was very, very proud of that moment.”

But a few weeks later while at her son’s Kelowna home, her heart suddenly stopped.

Chanan Williams has started a GoFundMe page to help with his mom’s funeral costs.


Williams’ mom was rushed to hospital but died.

The death came as shock to Williams and her family back home in Jamaica.

“She had a pinched nerve and she was in a wheelchair because of it, otherwise she was healthy,” an emotional Williams said.

Williams wasn’t just left to grieve the loss, he’s now also scrambling to come up with thousands of dollars to fulfill his mom’s final wish.

“I know she has one final wish, which would be to return home to be buried where the rest of the family is,” Williams said. “It’s one of the thing[s] she has always spoken about. There is a family plot there and it’s generations old. Her grandparents, her parents and her siblings are buried there so it is a family plot and she has always expressed that she wanted to be where her parents are.”

Acting on the advice of friends, Williams has started a “GoFundMe” page hoping to raise $20,000.

He told Global News that he’s learned it will cost about $15,000 to get the body back to Jamaica plus the added costs of things like proper documentation to make it all happen.

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But coming up with the money isn’t just the only challenge. Timing is also a problem.

“Ideally it’s recommended that it is done within a month in terms of death to have the body laid to rest,’ Williams said. ”Because it will start to [degrade].”

Getting the money together sooner rather than later is also important to avoid a big bill to continue to store the body.

“The realization started to set in that I might not be able to honour her wish,” Williams said. “I just graduated from college, there was no way I would be able to come up with $15,000 in a month to do this for her.”

Williams assumed his mom had insurance because he was told it’s included with the credit card booking but he later discovered that only applies to the cardholder or a spouse.

Jonathan Close is a friend of Williams who has been touched by the story.

He’s trying to help Williams by making phone calls to determine what other costs may be involved in getting Williams’ mom back to Jamaica and anything else that may be required.

“Anyone who has been through that or lost anyone that is close to them obviously knows what an impact that is and now imagine you are in a foreign country and not only that, but in order to fulfill your mother’s wishes to get her back to her own country, you are now stuck with the burden to pay for that,” Close said.

Close is encouraging people to help Williams if at all possible.

“This is tragic and so let’s not let it end on a tragic note. Let’s let it end on him being able to bring his mother’s remains back, to be able to lift his head up when he goes back to his country and say this is what happened but I brought her home,” Close said. “We want to see a happy, blessed ending on the end of this and whatever we can do as Canadians to help him out I challenge us to do.”

Click here for a link to the “GoFundMe” Page if you would like to lend your support.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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