Saskatchewan family holds backyard funeral

REGINA — Relatives of a woman who died in her Regina home say they were forced to hold a backyard funeral for her because they couldn’t get help from the Saskatchewan government.

Crystal Machiskinic received support under the province’s assured income for the disabled.

It covered basic funeral costs for people on social assistance, but that funding was cut in the March budget.

It was partially restored starting July 1, but the new flat rate of $2,100 is almost $1,800 less than it used to be.

The family says that because Machiskinic died the Friday before the July 1 long weekend, they couldn’t reach anyone in the Ministry of Social Services to confirm that some expenses would be covered.

Jeff Reddekop, with the ministry, says he can’t comment on the case due to privacy rules.

The service was delayed until this past Friday — contrary to First Nations culture in which funeral rites need to be completed within four days.

“We couldn’t arrange to have the funeral in a facility because we can’t afford it,” Carrie Stonechild, Machiskinic’s sister, said last week.

“All they had to do was pick up that phone, make that call and tell us, yes, they were going to cover expenses.

“In our culture, we have certain ceremonies that we do in those four days to send our loved ones into the spirit world. And not being able to do that, we’re very upset and hurt … We should have had her rested and done our ceremonies within those four days.”

Stonechild said there were other factors which contributed to the delay, but her frustration mounted when she finally reached someone from Social Services.

“A manager told … Crystal’s daughter to ‘get in line’ on the call centre phone. Another manager offered no condolences whatsoever … and they said it’s not their fault. It was the long weekend.

“It was just a very rude tone in their voices.”

Reddekop said in instances such as this, the department contacts a family the next business day, which in this case was a Tuesday.

“We understand how challenging it can be to make decisions on behalf of the family when a loved one has passed,” he said. “We very much understand what this family is experiencing, and would like to offer our sincere condolences to this family for their loss.”

Reddekop added the ministry has not received any other complaints about their practices interfering with a family’s ability to make funeral arrangements while respecting cultural or religious practices.

“I know it was the long weekend but at times like that, they should have backup people,” said Stonechild, who was planning to write a letter of complaint to the government with the help of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry.

“Is this what it takes for somebody to wake up and respect our way? I don’t want this to happen to anybody else in the future.”

(CTV Regina)

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

The cost of flushing sanitary wipes is brought to Red Deer city council

More public education is needed about what not to flush down toilets

Veterans’ Park barrier key to pedestrian safety, says Red Deer traffic engineer

The recently roughed-up concrete barrier in front of Veterans’ Park has seen… Continue reading

Man accused of home invasion in court

Victim was shot and cut with machete in September 2017 attack

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month