Iqaluit funeral home waives fees for infant’s service
Covering costs of Jackie Sheutiapik’s funeral a ‘huge relief’ for family, says friend
A family in Iqaluit won’t have to shoulder the costs of a funeral for their infant son, after a local funeral director waived the fees for a service.
Qikiqtani Funeral Services in Iqaluit made the donation in response to a family friend who started an online fundraiser to help the Sheutiapik family, who lost their five-month-old son Jackie suddenly on April 6.
It is believed Jackie had suffocated after rolling over and becoming stuck while sleeping. An autopsy was performed in Ottawa and his death has been deemed not suspicious.
Joanne McKenzie, a former Iqaluit RCMP dispatch officer, said the fundraiser had received $2,470 in donations by April 21 when she got a call from Jake Gebara, director of the Qikiqtani funeral home.
“He was just wonderful… and he said, ‘I’ve spent time with the baby and I can’t possibly charge for this,’” McKenzie said.
Qikiqtani Funeral Services waived the fees for a funeral and provided the services and staff free of charge, she said.
In 2020, the average cost of a funeral in Iqaluit was $4,635.
Jackie’s mother, Tooksheargak Sheutiapik, who has three older children, said she is glad her family no longer has to worry about covering the costs of the funeral.
The service was held in Iqaluit on April 22. Sheutiapik didn’t count the number of people who attended, but said it was “a lot.”
“It was a huge relief to the family and took a lot of weight off their shoulders,” McKenzie said of the pro bono service.
She said that rather than paying for a funeral, some of the money raised by the online fundraiser will now go to the funeral home as an honorarium.
“The reason we decided to provide an honorarium to them is because people had donated with the intent to cover expenses of the funeral,” she explained.
She said the rest will go to the Sheutiapik family to pay for a private gathering to celebrate baby Jackie.
“We’re so grateful that people stepped up to help in so many ways, like all the people who donated individually and obviously Qikiqtani Funeral Services. I mean, there’s no words for what kind of gifts they’ve given, so we’re very grateful,” McKenzie said.
“Iqaluit is a great community… It’s just been wonderful to have people rally around them at this time.”