CORNER BROOK Helen Caravan says people are reluctant to sign the petition against the Mount Patricia Cemetery’s one item per gravesite policy because they are frightened of the workers and the committee.
“A lot of people seem to be afraid,” said Caravan. “There is nothing to be afraid of. We’ve got to stand up and fight for what we believe in.”
The Mount Patricia Cemetery Association is being criticized for enforcing the rule, and is being accused of taking and burning items that were placed on graves.
The petition calls for the end of these rules and to remove the person in charge, Art Dawe, the chairperson of the association. It has been in circulation since Nov. 20.
Caravan says the cemetery is not properly administered.
“For people who volunteer over there, they’ve done all the wrong things,” she said.
Caravan has put the petition in local stores, and people have been signing it.
She has spoken to a lot of people over the problem and says people are still angered over the unresolved issue, concerning the people’s belongings.
“I talked to a gentlemen who is very upset,” she said. “He wants to go over there and dig up his family member.”
She has more than 300 signatures on paper and 28 members on a Facebook page, “Mount Patricia Cemetery (Have a Look).”
Caravan has also written letters to MP Gerry Byrne’s office as well as members of the clergy.
The letter states: “There was never a problem having the crosses and angels on the headstones before, and to take everything off loved ones’ graves and throw them away like they were nothing is very upsetting ... I am not going to stop until the person in charge is gone ... What gives the workers or the one that runs the cemetery the right to take away from us ... We (the people) have every right to put crosses and ornaments on our loved ones’ graves.”
Caravan says she will present the petition in the new year to the members of the cemetery committee. She wants people to join her on that day.
Meanwhile, Dawe said it would be too difficult and dangerous to leave items on the graves during the winter season because the items cause a hazard.
“If people want to change the committee, it is completely up to the people,” he said.
“A lot of times we can’t get people to fill the positions,” he said.
“If people think they can do a better job, then by all means move in there.”
Dawe also said the cemetery has hundreds of people backing the committee.
“I accept everyone’s opinion ... we’re there to help, we’re there to support people.”
Dawe says the committee will handle the petition when it is presented.
“Because one person doesn’t agree with something and starts a petition that doesn’t necessarily make it right.”