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Ontario man devastated after brother's ashes lost on Air Canada flight

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A trip taken to Jamaica last year by a Brampton, Ont. family to spread the ashes of their late brother took a turn for the worse when their checked luggage, containing the remains, was nowhere to be found upon their arrival.

“It was sad for me to lose him,” Charles Matthews told CTV News Toronto on Monday. “We did everything together. He was like my twin brother.”

Charles’s brother, Conroy, died in January 2023.

Matthews said his brother’s final wish was that his cremated remains be placed beside his mother's gravesite in Jamaica.

“He requested before he passed away that we take some of his ashes and put them beside our mom,” Matthews said.

In March, the Matthews family flew to Jamaica on an Air Canada flight with Conroy’s ashes checked in a suitcase.

When they got to Jamaica, Matthews said, all the suitcases arrived except the one that contained the remains.

“It was very sad, very depressing,” Jean Bennett, Conroy’s sister, told CTV News Toronto. “There were 10 of us that went down to have a memorial service for my brother, but there was no body or ashes for the service to take place.”

Charles Matthews’s brother Conroy Matthews is seen in an undated photo.

Matthews said he phoned the airport in Jamaica, went in person several times and filled out a missing baggage form. When he returned to Canada the following month, he said, he also contacted Air Canada and was told that when the suitcase was recovered it would be sent to him, but that never happened.

“It would be a miracle to get that luggage back, but we are still hoping,” Bennett said. “We have had no form of compensation, not even kind words.”

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Air Canada called the situation “very unfortunate.”

“It is regrettable the customer did not report it to us at the time it occurred, and instead only reported it to the airport and then Air Canada approximately three months after the flight,” the spokesperson said.

Air Canada also noted that “cremated remains may be carried on board, in addition to your carry-on allowance, provided they are stored in a cardboard or wooden box or an urn made of a material that can be security screened (with a tight-fitting lid to ensure no spillage occurs).”

The Matthews family flew to Jamaica on an Air Canada flight with their brother’s ashes checked in a suitcase.

“Although we did attempt to locate the bag once we learned of this matter, due to the prolonged delay in making us aware of the situation it was not possible to discover how this occurred nor trace the bag after that length of time had elapsed. There are also limits within which compensation can be claimed and these were exceeded in this case,” the company said.

Matthews said he thought he did provide Air Canada with the proper information, and said he feels terrible he was not able to fulfill his brother's final wishes.

"He asked me to put him beside my mother and it makes me feel bad that I let him down with that,” Matthews said.

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