'What a heartless thing to do': Ashes dumped in alley after container stolen from home

Madeline Milne can’t believe that the person who stole a wooden box from her home had the callousness to throw away her mother’s ashes after finding them inside.

Her mother, Metchosin councillor Moralea Milne, died in a car crash in Surrey in 2018.

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“It’s absolutely shocking that this is the one item that they would steal, and not the laptop or the TV or whatever,” Milne said.

The ashes were found in an alley along Vancouver Street and taken to the Sands funeral home on Quadra Street, she said.

The funeral home messaged her Monday night to say it had the bag, then confirmed they contained her mother’s remains on Tuesday morning.

“Unbeknownst to me there’s an ID tag on these things, and it turns out is our mother’s remains,” Milne said.

It is good news that the ashes are back, she said, “but what a heartless thing to do.”

The break-in is believed to have happened at Milne’s Collinson Street residence some time between July 27 and Aug. 1, when the home was unoccupied. The theft was discovered by her roommate on Monday afternoon.

“It was only thing stolen from the house, which was odd,” she said. “It would suggest that whoever stole it understood its monetary value. But if they understood its monetary value then they would probably also understand its cultural value — which is surprising to me they would then in turn steal it.”

Milne said the bentwood box, which has a First Nations design, has been in the family for about 15 years.

“It was where our father’s remains were and then our grandfather’s and now our mother’s,” she said. “It’s a very distinctive piece of First Nations art, so anyone trying to sell it, I think, with the media coverage we’re getting right now, is going to be hard-pressed to sell it to any legitimate dealer, that’s for sure.”

Victoria police ask anyone with information to call them 250-995-7654 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

jbell@timescolonist.com

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