The perseverance of two department-store workers and a chance meeting in a Calgary mall reunited a mother with the digital camera she lost six months before and priceless memories of her baby's first months.
Manpreet Brar, 28, was visiting family in Calgary from Toronto with her husband and five-week-old daughter, Prabhkee, when she lost her camera while shopping downtown in October.
"I was disappointed to the nth degree because I had so many pictures of my little one that I hadn't uploaded, and pictures of the first time she met my family and her first trip to Calgary and her first flight," Brar told CBC News on Monday.
She called the stores she had visited, but to no avail. "I figured you know what, it's lost in downtown Calgary. There's no way I'm going to find it, so I just kind of left it at that," she said. "We just chalked those memories up as being lost forever."
This week, Brar was back in Calgary, shopping at the Bay in the northwest Market Mall, when an employee approached her.
"We were standing by the escalators with my daughter and this girl came out of nowhere," Brar recalled. "She goes, 'Oh my gosh, did you lose a digital camera?' And I was shocked. I don't even know how to explain what my feeling was. And I was like, 'Yeah, but it was so long ago,' and I thought she was mistaken."
According to Brar, the woman, whose first name is Andleeb, said: "My friend has it and we've been searching for you."
It turns out her friend Nadia, who works at the downtown Bay, found the $400 camera and hung on to it hoping she could track down the owner, because she thought Brar looked familiar.
Nadia searched through Facebook and showed the camera's photos to the local Muslim community to see whether anyone could recognize people in the images. With leads running out, Nadia was going to wait until the end of April and then give the camera to charity, Brar said.
The day after Andleeb recognized Brar, she got the camera back with all of her photos.
"There are such good, kind souls in the city that took the time — six months — to try to find me! I was just really, really impressed," Brar said.
Brar said she plans to write the Bay to praise the two employees.
Officials with the department store refused to allow the women to speak to CBC News to share part of their story.