A Sooke family is upset after losing a memento in a recent clean up at the Sooke Harbour Cemetery.
Around three or four times a year, as well as after large wind storms, volunteers for the cemetery will do a large clean up and remove items such as flowers or mementos that have been blown around, as well flowers that look old and tattered. And after cleaning, caretakers will generally gather all the old leaves, flowers and branches into a pile and burn them.
This time around, the pile was seen by the public and some feared that vandalism had been the reason why so many fake flowers were scattered in the pile.
A photo was posted to social media, and Margie Hill and Cara Seidel were shocked to see a monumental cross and flower arrangements they made for a loved one amongst the pile of rubbish.
After seeing the photo, Hill went to the cemetery to try and find the cross, but she was unable to find any remaining pieces.
“I dug through the burn pile for an hour and a half just trying to at least find the plaque and I couldn’t,” Hill said. “With something like a cross, where does someone get the right to tell us it doesn’t belong there anymore?”
Seidel and Hill were upset because the cross used to be their loved one’s marker before they could afford a tomb stone. It was made out of wicker wood and decorated with a plaque with the deceased’s name and dates, guitar picks, and fake flowers.
“If the person cleaning would have just taken one look at it, they would see it was meaningful. They should have called us before they threw it out,” Seidel said.
Hill said she spoke with the caretaker, and was told that fake flowers and mementos were not recommended, and that the caretaker couldn’t be certain what happened with their cross.
“No one ever told us before that we couldn’t keep that cross there,” Hill said. “It was very meaningful to us, so at the very least they could have put an ad in the paper and warned that they were going to get rid of everything so we could have kept it.”
Caretakers responded to the issue saying people shouldn’t have mementos or fake flowers at the cemetery, but regardless, they are always mindful of what is removed from graves.
“We always try to be sensitive and only remove things that look old or get blown around from weather, so I’m not sure how this could have happened,” said the Sooke Lions, who are responsible for the cemetery, in a statement to the Sooke News Mirror.
They also warned that sometimes vandals go in and remove things from graves as well, so the cross could have been lying around before the volunteers cleaned up.
The Lions will be meeting soon to discuss how things can be better handled moving forward, suggesting they might consider posting a warning before doing another large clean up, so that families can come and mark or pick up things they don’t want removed.