KAMLOOPS — Members of a Kamloops family say they can't properly grieve their mother without a plaque that was apparently stolen before it was even installed at Hillside Cemetery.
Debbie Cameron died on September 21, and her ashes were interred at Hillside.
A few days later, the woman's family ordered a bronze plaque meant to be placed on the niche, the facing surface of the columbarium, the structure containing her ashes.
By December, the Cameron family couldn't understand why the plaque hadn't been installed, and took it up with the City of Kamloops, which operates the cemetery.
City officials investigated and found the plaque, which was shipped from Australia, had been delivered to the cemetery after hours on November 6, and subsequently stolen.
Ashley Cameron, Debbie's daughter, says the family wants nothing more than the return of the plaque.
"If anybody has just seen it laying around, we are really hoping that it gets returned to us. It is very hard visiting a cemetery where you can't see a memory of your own Mom. We can't leave anything behind, because the plaques themselves are what hold the flowers."
Cameron says the family is frustrated it took so long for the city to realize there was a problem.
"Hillside themselves should have followed up with family. I know it's a business for them, but to people who have family members in there, it's a personal thing. It's not a business for us. It comes down to a personal issue for us, whereas for them, they collected the money from us so I guess they just don't feel the need to follow up, which is too bad."
Hillside Cemetery Crew Leader Tom Sherbo says he has spoken to the family and apologized for the mix-up.
"Given day-to-day operations, we don't typically check into (a plaque's whereabouts) because this is definitely a first," said Sherbo. "More often than not, the plaque would just arrive and we would install it straight away for the families who are waiting for it."
Sherbo says the city has changed its policies in light of this incident.
"We will follow up more directly with the company to see where it is in transit so that we can wait for it," he said.
"We will definitely be asking for a signature upon delivery, or we can pick it up from a facility. We're more than happy to do that. We've already made those changes. The plaque has been reordered and has been expedited so it will hopefully get here as soon as possible."
Even so, the Cameron family says the holidays will be a little more empty without their mother, and without a proper way to remember her.
"If anybody has just seen it misplaced or remembers somebody coming into a pawn shop or anywhere that may have tried to sell it to them or turn it in to get melted down, any information would be amazing. We would really hope for the return of it before Christmastime so that we can put it up and be able to visit our Mom over the holidays, that's all we're asking for."
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