June 24, 2001
Baby Domenic not forgotten
Sun readers offer cash, grave plots and helpBy NADIA MOHARIB -- Sun Media
CALGARY -- The body of a little boy forgotten by his family after dying in an empty apartment has been embraced by strangers vowing to see him properly buried and remembered with love.
Dozens of saddened and outraged readers called The Calgary Sun yesterday with offers of cash, grave plots and help, after it was revealed Domenic Brown is facing a pauper's burial because no family member has offered to cover funeral costs.
Judy Huk wants to give up her own burial plot - a place marked by a small stone plaque beside the recent grave of her husband Andy - to the 15-month-old boy.
"This kid deserves to have a space to rest. My husband always helped people. I'm sure he would be proud," said Huk.
Huk wasn't the only one disturbed to learn Domenic might be buried beside other unclaimed bodies at Queen's Park Cemetery, once the police investigation ends.
The boy was found dead in a Calgary apartment June 5, and police are searching for the body of his three-month-old sister Gemini, believed dumped in the Bow River.
Their 23-year-old mother Rie Fujii is undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment after being charged with failing to properly dispose of a body.
Police told The Sun Domenic's relatives - including grandparents and the babies' father Peter Brown - have shown no interest in paying for a funeral, leaving police little choice but to hand the body over for a city-paid pauper's service.
No one wanted the abandoned boy to be forgotten in death.
"Baby Domenic becomes the city's child. It's up to us to provide him with a proper burial. I want his sister to be put on top of him should her remains ever be found," said Tricia Wheatley, who arranged the funeral for Baby Jane Doe, an infant abandoned several years ago who also captured city hearts.
Calgary Sun Editor-in-chief Chris Nelson said the city's response has been "unbelievably heartwarming."
"It is obvious from this outpouring of offers of help that Calgarians are going to ensure little Domenic receives a burial of respect, dignity and love. It proves once again this is a city with enormous heart," said Nelson.
For two years Tracey Meadal spent two hours a week at parenting classes with the boy and his mother and she remembers Domenic as a curious little toddler.
"I played with him. He was an energetic, happy little boy. I remember him calling her 'momma.' This shouldn't have happened ..." she said. The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, on behalf of staff at Calgary's Children's Hospital, wants to donate $2,000 towards funeral costs.
Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.