Quirk at Kelowna crematorium sends sensitive exports to Kamloops

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THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Installlation of new equipment means a Kelowna funeral home must perform cremations at a sister facility in Kamloops.

First Memorial general manager Corey Dixon says the transfer of remains to Pine Grove Funeral Home in Kamloops for cremation has been done with the full consent of families.

“We believe in full disclosure. We’re not hiding anything, of course,” Dixon said during a phone interview.

He would not say how many remains from the Kelowna area have been cremated in Kamloops or how many more cremations will happen before the equipment installation is complete but added most next-of-kin have consented to the change.

Dixon said the exception was the executor of a will for a recently deceased man who complained earlier this week about the change in service.

“He was in a manic rush. He rushed everything and didn’t pay attention and listen to the details,” Dixon said. “It's unfortunate. He was upset, it’s something that happens.”

Dixon said the diversion to Kamloops hasn’t caused any delays in service and remains are coming back the same day.

“Our staff drive to and from the crematorium everyday. There’s no added extra time,” he said. "We make cremation runs everyday to ensure our families are getting the cremated remains of their loved ones in a timely fashion.”

Depending on the size of the deceased and the type of container they are in, a cremation can take from three to seven hours, he added, and there’s no obligation to use First Memorial should the family object to the Kamloops transfer.

“If that’s the case, we alway offer that we can do it otherwise, but most people say fine in the end,” Dixon said. “We haven’t had to do one yet, but if the family said no, it’s not acceptable, then we have to go with the family’s wishes. We would have to refer them to a different funeral home.”

First Memorial began installing the retort — the actual machine in the crematorium — last Friday, July 8 and will take until July 22 to complete.

First Memorial is owned by Service Corporation International, one of the largest funeral service companies in North America.

Dixon said the decision to use an out-of-town affiliate allows the company to control adherence to its cremation policies and protocols are followed.

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