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Sister in B.C. waits for little brother's ashes that seem to be lost in transit

VANCOUVER — Courtney Baker doesn't know what she's going to do with the urn she's picked out for her little brother's ashes.

VANCOUVER — Courtney Baker doesn't know what she's going to do with the urn she's picked out for her little brother's ashes. 

They were supposed to arrive by express post from Edmonton to Vancouver more than two weeks ago, but after the expected delivery date was pushed back several times, she's come to the conclusion that they may be lost. 

Darrell Baker died Nov. 26 in Edmonton, said his sister who lives in Vancouver. 

The 36-year-old's remains were cremated at a funeral home in Edmonton and shipped via Canada Post to the family on Dec. 22. 

The ashes were supposed to arrive by Christmas Eve, and at this point Courtney Baker said she's checked the tracking number so many times she knows it by heart. 

"We just want our brother to come home so we can lay him to rest," she said.

The tracking number now shows the ashes are expected Jan. 12.

A spokesman for Canada Post said the organization will be in touch with Baker "as the item moves through our network."

"We understand the importance of this item and have been investigating since being contacted by the customer," Phil Legault said in an emailed statement. "The item was unfortunately mailed just days before Christmas when we were focused on clearing the backlogs caused by processing heavy volumes while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols throughout our operations."

Baker said the $110 urn -- sky blue with a soaring eagle on it -- is due to be delivered Monday.

"And what am I gonna do with it?" she asked. "We don't have his ashes." 

She picked out the urn because eagles play a "significant" part in her brother's Nlaka’pamux culture. He was from the Coldwater Band near Merritt, B.C., she said. 

"When we see eagles, it's a sign that your family members are watching over you." 

Baker said their mother, who has health problems, has taken her son's death the hardest and had to be taken to the hospital.

"With his passing and not knowing where his remains are, it's making her issue worse," she said. 

The family doesn't know the cause of his death and is waiting on the autopsy report for answers. 

Her brother moved to Alberta a few years ago and worked on oil rigs.  

He became addicted to drugs about 12 years ago, but got clean and remained that way for the last decade, she said. 

During that time the siblings had a falling out. Getting closure now is important for her, Baker said.

"He's the baby of the family. You know, siblings are sort of supposed to look out for each other," she said.

"I tried to give him helpful tips and advice," she said. "He's independent and likes to do his own thing. And I guess he doesn't like receiving advice. We just lost contact."

The older sister described her little brother as an animal lover, a kid who loved cars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tonka trucks and was always off on some adventure.

"He would rescue animals, find them homes, or take them in himself if he could from the time he was very young." 

The way she looks at it now, Baker said, is that her brother is away on "some adventure," travelling like he always did.

"And when the time is right for me, I am looking at adopting a dog and naming him after Darrell or one of his middle names, which is Benjamin Clifford."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2021.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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