Families relieved Montreal cemetery to reopen on Sundays for first time since pandemic started
MONTREAL -- Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery has decided to reopen on Sundays much to the relief of many families.
Since the pandemic began, the cemetery remained closed to people wishing to pay their respects to their loved ones.
It's been a long, hard fought battle for Michael Musacchio.
He comes to the cemetery to visit his daughter, Vanessa, but the Sunday closure made that a lot harder.
“I started back at work six days a week. I was never able to come so I decided that this was unjust. Every other cemetery in Montreal, and Canada for that fact, were [open] seven days a week,” he told CTV News.
He spent countless hours trying to get answers and to get the cemetery to open on Sundays.
“I work all day and then devote my time to emailing. I've emailed everybody,” he said.
Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery will now be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays, a major relief for Musacchio and other families as well.
Tracey Timmoney’s father died right as the pandemic hit last year. Not being able to visit on Sunday meant a lot of logistical challenges.
“It made it difficult. It made it very, very difficult especially to bring my mom,” she said.
“I would have to arrange it somehow on a Saturday and if a Saturday didn't work, if the weather wasn't that great, well, then we had to wait for the following week.”
But what they both still question are the reasons given by the cemetery for why it closed.
Musacchio said cemetery officials told him it was so the facilities could be disinfected and cleaned.
Patrick Chartrand, who works at the cemetery and is a union representative, said it's not true that employees disinfect on Sundays, and claimed it was all about saving money.
“The truth is it’s purely economic. We save the salaries of the security guards,” he said in an interview.
CTV News reached out to cemetery officials for comment but did not hear back at press time.
“For me, this is a way to honour her,” said Musacchio, who, like other families, have some peace of mind and are able to now pay their respects every day of the week.
“I think it's just something that should have been done from the beginning. I fought because it's something that was not right.”