Families in 'anguish': Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery reopens after months-long closure
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery in Montreal reopened Friday for the first time in months.
Families have been unable to visit loved ones since January after a labour dispute forced the cemetery’s closure.
"I suffer, believe me,” said Luigi Decubellis, who visited his wife’s grave at least once a week for the past 16 years. "Not coming to see my wife is killing me."
Families said they have felt like their loved ones have been taken hostage.
"We've always made this a point to come here,” said George Decubellis. “To take a moment to just show our feelings for our mother. My dad's been with my mom 52 years. God bless them, they had a beautiful life, so it's just extremely difficult."
After three months, the cemetery is again open to family members, but only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
That's upsetting to some, like Michael Musacchio, who is desperate to visit his daughter Vanessa's grave but can’t because he works during opening hours.
"It's unfair. We've entrusted our families to their care. It's supposed to be a place to go to find some peace and find serenity and it's caused more anguish than anything else," he said.
Though it’s open, many families were met Friday with unplowed roads and walkways.
Cemetery staff are on strike and say if management gets its way, the situation will only get worse.
"They just want to cut everywhere. On the salary for sure, but on the number of people,” said Eric Dufault, president of the cemetery workers’ union. “If we accept this, it's going to be the beginning of the end. The cemetery will be abandoned, like a forest."
High snow meant Luigi was unable to reach his wife's grave. He has surgery next week and doesn't know the next time he'll be able to visit.
"I don't know if I'm coming back after the operation, am I no longer going to see my wife? I'm going crazy. I'm sorry, but I'm going crazy."
Workers have been without a contract now for more than four years.
Management did not return request for comment.
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