Sitting in her office in Yellowknife last July, Yvette Schreder received a funny message: someone from the Alberta medical examiner’s office was trying to reach her.
Hours later, when the mother-of-four finally managed to speak to someone, she was nonchalantly told that the body of her 30-year-old son Christopher was ready for recovery, his autopsy completed.
Schreder didn’t even know he was dead.
“She [the medical examiner] started talking about him and I just said, ‘Where is my son and what’s going on?’ and she said ‘Nobody contacted you yet?’ and I said ‘No, what’s going on? Where is he?'”
Schreder said the medical examiner was also shocked that no one had told him about his son’s death, which occurred eight days earlier.
“She said, ‘This has never happened to me before. I’m sorry to tell you that your son has passed away. “”
Christopher Mailloux-Schreder is the fourth Indigenous person in the past two months whose family has come forward saying they were not immediately notified of the death.
Tara Niptanatiak’s Inuit family learned in February that she had been buried by the Alberta government in a municipal cemetery 2,000 kilometers south of her hometown of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Candice Wheeler’s Cree family didn’t learn she was buried in Calgary until months later. And earlier this month, the Inuit family of Daniel Saunders learned that he died and was buried in a cemetery in Laval, Quebec, in 2018.
“He wasn’t somebody nobody cared about,” Schreder said of his son Christopher.
“He had a lot of people who cared about him and a lot of people who loved him. He was our son, brother, uncle, dad. It was really hard to accept, nobody thought he was worth let us know.
Christopher was born and raised in the Northwest Territories and educated in Yellowknife and Hay River. In his early twenties, after getting his welding certificate, he moved to Alberta.
“He was a daredevil. He always did everything at full throttle. He had to either go big or go home, that’s how he did everything,” Schreder said.
“He had a really big heart. He really loved people. He loved his family…He always cared about everyone.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Schreder said Christoper started using opioids. She said he struggled to get treatment, and when he finally got in, he struggled.
“He went out there thinking he could hit it himself, but that’s not what happened,” she said. “We lost him in six months.”
Conflicting medical notes
According to his medical records, Christopher was brought to Wetaskiwin Hospital on the afternoon of July 14, 2021 by private car. He was in cardiac arrest. Staff performed CPR in the hospital’s ambulance bay, but Christopher died later that day.
Records show hospital staff knew his identity and emergency contact. The name and number of her friend and former roommate, April Campbell, are clearly on her medical records.
On one page of his records, a hospital staff member wrote “…family member notified.” But in another area, it appears the same hospital staff member wrote ‘contact details for the family are not yet known’.
Schreder and his family will not learn of Christopher’s death for eight days.
“At that time, I had gone fishing and had fun with my friends. His father had turned 50 and had fun with his friends. All this time, we had no idea, no idea that he was actually gone,” Schreder said. said.
When asked why the hospital did not notify Christopher’s emergency contact after his death, an Alberta Health Services (AHS) spokesperson said they could not discuss of “specific patient cases,” writing that “AHS has established standard practices for notification of next of kin who are identified on patient records.”
“Our hearts go out to the patient’s family and loved ones,” spokeswoman Heather Kipling added in an email.
Alone in the morgue
As a Cree woman, Schreder said she was devastated that her son’s body lay in an Alberta morgue for two weeks before being sent to Yellowknife for burial, six days later. learned that he was dead.
“In our culture, when someone dies, as soon as they’re ready to go home, we spend as much time as possible with that person. Someone is with them 24/7.”
Once in Yellowknife, Schreder’s body was taken to his father’s shop where his family and friends watched for two days before his funeral.
He is now buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Yellowknife.
“He was an outdoorsman. He was an athlete. He loved his welding. He was a dad, a brother,” his mother said.
“He was so loved.”