WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg woman is grieving after losing her mother to a long battle with cancer. On top of the tragedy, she said thousands of dollars were stolen from sympathy cards at the funeral last week.
Fatima Mustapha is hoping to find out who took the money, as much of the cash was going to be donated to CancerCare Manitoba.
“The whole thing is so painful for me,” Mustapha said. “First off dealing with a huge loss. My mom had cancer and we wanted to donate some of the money CancerCare, and then the rest of the money was going to help pay for funeral costs.”
Mustapha’s mother, Priscilla Olanrewaju, passed away Jan. 14 after two years battling cancer. She was going through chemotherapy, and Mustapha said she died unexpectedly on her birthday.
The funeral was at Mosaic Funeral on 1006 Nairn Ave. on Jan. 28.
There was a basket by the front door for cards and donations, she said. Although some guests personally gave cards and cash during the service, a majority of them were in the basket, she said.
“But anyone could have come off the street and taken it. They [funeral director] should have had someone assigned to sit and watch it,” she said.
Mustapha said she was told by the funeral director that there’s usually someone who stands by the donation box during the service. But at the end of service the basket was not there.
Mustapha said although she was not aware there was a basket full of cards, multiple people, including employees funeral home, confirmed the basket was full.
Global News reached out to Mosaic Funeral for a comment. A spokesperson said they cannot confirm there were any cards or cash in the basket.
Mustapha said she is not blaming anyone and believes the basket could have even been taken accidentally. She is hoping for closure, and to send the message to anyone who had written a cheque to cancel it.
“I cannot grieve properly and when I do grieve… this is weighing so much on my heart,” she said.
Mustapha has filed an police report and Winnipeg Police Service confirms it is investigating.
“I can’t think of anything more gut wrenching and despicable than taking money from a funeral,” Constable Rob Carver said.