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Artist wants answers after work shipped by Canada Post destroyed

Edmonton wood artist Yanick Richard says he is struggling to get an answer from Canada Post after a piece he shipped to a client in Kelowna arrived three weeks late and destroyed in the package.

'They've got to be careful with the packages they deliver. We trust them as a small business.'

Wood artist Yanick Richard says he has received no answers from Canada Post after his client's art was destroyed in the box. (CBC/Sam Martin)

Yanick Richard ships hundreds of boxes containing his birch art every year, and knows there's a chance the delicate pieces could be damaged along the way.

To minimize that risk, the Edmonton artist painstakingly ships his custom wooden wall art — made of twigs and branches carefully nailed into a pine frame — in bubble wrap, layers of cardboard, tape and dozens of orange "fragile" stickers.

Throughout years of shipping through Canada Post, he has had the odd piece that arrived at its destination with scratches or minor damage.

But an art piece sent to a client in Kelowna on Oct. 20 arrived three weeks late on Nov. 21, looking like it had been run over and hastily repackaged. The wood frame inside was broken and birch branches were strewn throughout the box.

The piece was priced at $300.

Watch how Yanick Richard typically packages his art pieces before delivery

Yanick Richard, The Bircher Man, describes how an art piece delivered by Canada Post to a customer arrived completely damaged. 0:55

"I was pretty furious, but I don't know what to do," he said. "It's like IKEA pieces you have to assemble yourself, but it's impossible because it's not made for that."

Richard said he has a small business account with Canada Post and his packages are insured. He has so far not been able to get clear answers from Canada Post on what happened to the art, and whether he will be reimbursed for the loss. 

"At this point, it's not a matter of insurance anymore," he said. "It's a matter of it's been destroyed and that's not something normal that should happen."

The package had a sticker from Canada Post that said it had been repaired on Nov. 8, Richard said. He wonders if the postal strike contributed to the problem by slowing the delivery process. 

At this point, it's not a matter of insurance anymore. It's a matter of it's been destroyed and that's not something normal that should happen.- Yanick Richard

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Canada Post confirmed it had received Richard's complaint and it has been in contact with him about it.

The shipper said it is in the process of confirming that Richard had insurance but did not explicitly say whether the artist will receive a refund. 

However, Canada Post said insurance covers items that are lost or seriously delayed in shipping, but is not liable for damage to fragile items.

As for the delivery delay, Canada Post said it expects delays to continue into the new year, even though striking workers have returned to the job.

The art, worth about $300, was broken in the box when the client opened it. (Supplied/Yanick Richard)

Richard said he will consider shipping with UPS from now on to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. It costs a bit more than Canada Post, he said, but after speaking to other artists he believes the company handles packages better.

He said when he has offered to ship customers art through Canada Post, some have been wary and have opted to drive hours to pick it up themselves.

Richard is now preparing for the busiest time of the year with craft sales and Christmas clients.

He said he wants to be able to trust Canada Post to ensure his art will be delivered without damage. 

"They've got to be careful with the packages they deliver. We trust them as a small business ... to deliver stuff safely," he said.

"It bugs us ... because we take care and make them with love and like what we do, and want them to be sent home safely."

One of Richard's art pieces on display in his Edmonton living room. (CBC/Sam Martin)