Cemetery sign sparks controversy for suggesting unvaccinated could become clients

Cemetery operators in Windsor faced some backlash over the weekend after they updated their outdoor road sign, causing some in the community to take offence. 

General manager said he's received threatening messages, and took down the sign

Windsor Memorial Gardens' cemetery sign is empty on Monday, August 9. Words were taken down on Saturday, after members of the community took offence to the previous marquee saying "Not vaccinated yet you may be here soon." (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC)

Cemetery operators in Windsor faced backlash over the weekend after they updated their outdoor road sign, causing some in the community to take offence. 

Last Wednesday, Windsor Memorial Gardens Cemetery posted to their marquee "Not vaccinated yet you may be here soon."

General manager of the cemetery, Edward Shabsove, said that he started to receive threatening messages shortly after, and he took the sign down. 

"It's not a political statement, it's just coming from 'Let's be safe guys,' I didn't mean it as a joke, or political, that's serious stuff [COVID-19]," said Shabsove. 

"If you don't get vaccinated that's your choice, but if you don't, you get that choice of being sick, too."

Shabsove said he didn't expect such a reaction to the sign, and had something similar posted a few years ago, reading "texting and driving could land you a spot in here."

General manager Edward Shabsove said he never meant for the sign to spark controversy, and has received threats against himself and the property. (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC)

"It was up for 8 or 9 months and we never had an issue," said Shabsove. "It's really no different."

Shabsove explained the cemetery is multi-faith and very accepting of all community members. 

"I think people are reading it wrong, that's all it is," he said.

"Because if you read it there's nothing disgusting or terrible, it's just trying to say look, you could end up here, I'm not telling you you're going to, but you could."

He said he will be posting to the sign again, but not in the near future. 

"Now that I know people read it, yeah there will be more going up, but we don't want controversy — we're a small cemetery a great community and Windsor-Essex has been good to us."