Nova Scotia

Sydney funeral director loses licence after caskets reused multiple times

A funeral director at Chant's Funeral Home, which was destroyed in a suspicious fire earlier this year, has had her licence revoked after an inquiry found she was reusing caskets and provided services for an unlicensed funeral home.

Jill Nemis was funeral director at Chant's Funeral Home until it closed after suspicious fire

The inquiry found the home was reusing caskets, in some cases up to six times. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

A funeral director at a Sydney, N.S., funeral home that was destroyed by fire earlier this year has had her licence revoked after an inquiry found she was reusing caskets and provided services for an unlicensed funeral home.

The Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors held the inquiry into complaints against Jillian Nemis, a funeral director at Chant's Funeral Home, on Nov. 12 and 13.

In a decision released Monday, the board said Nemis's licence has been revoked immediately.

Chant's Funeral Home closed 10 months ago following a suspicious fire on Feb. 2. It had also faced investigation over complaints related to prepaid funerals, although police in September announced they would not be laying fraud charges.

In its decision on Nemis, the board said Service Nova Scotia, the provincial department that oversees the funeral industry, received a complaint in fall 2018 that Chant's was reusing traditional caskets multiple times.

The complaint said that purchasers who paid for a rental casket and wooden insert were instead placed in a traditional casket for the funeral. They were then removed and placed in a cardboard cremation container, instead of being cremated in the wooden insert.

The complaint went on to say that the casket was then cleaned of any stains and fluids and put back out to be used again.

The decision says Nemis's licence to work in the funeral industry in Nova Scotia is revoked immediately. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The decision said three former funeral home employees testified it was common practice for the home to charge a rental fee for a rental casket, but then place the remains in a traditional casket that was later cleaned for reuse.

The three witnesses said the practice was ordered by funeral home owner Sheldon Chant, but that Nemis cleaned the caskets, and in one case helped move the remains.

Nemis denied the allegations, saying that she often cleaned caskets of dust or water stains but not to be reused.

In its decision, the inquiry found the home engaged in "misrepresentation and fraud" while Nemis was funeral director and held the position of funeral director in charge.

It said the practice of reusing traditional caskets meant that families did not get the casket inserts they had purchased. It also said loved ones were placed in traditional caskets that had been previously used, sometimes as many as six times.

The inquiry also found that Nemis provided funeral director services for an unlicensed home when she arranged a funeral service after Chant's licence had been suspended in February.

The revocation of Nemis's licence means she cannot work as a funeral director in Nova Scotia. She has three months to appeal the decision.