WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba family is reliving the heartbreak of losing their father as they have been asked to dig up his body and move it because the plot the family purchased already had been sold to someone else.

Dan Griffith, 62, died unexpectedly Christmas Day at his home in Deloraine, Man., and he was buried on Jan. 4.

Amanda Griffith-Conway, one of Dan's daughters, said on Jan. 14 her family was called about a mistake at the cemetery.

"The spot where my dad had been buried was sold prior to someone else and there was a mix-up with the town and it was actually double sold," said Griffith-Conway.

She said her family was told that the town had approached the other owners of the plot to see if something could be worked out, but the other owners didn't want to give up the spot.

"An alternative solution without disinterment of Mr. Griffith's remains does not appear achievable," the Reeve of the RM of Deloraine-Winchester, Gord Weidenhamer, said in a letter to the Griffith family, which was obtained by CTV News.

Griffith-Conway said she couldn't believe that her family would have to exhume her dad's body.

"All of us were just starting to take a step forward through this process, even though it was still very recent, we're definitely nowhere near getting through the grief process and mourning, but we were starting to take steps forward," she said.

Dan Griffith

Source: Amanda Griffith-Conway

She added that going through this process now is making it even harder for the family to deal with Dan's death.

The plot originally belonged to the family of Murray Combs after his mother bought four consecutive plots in 2006 following the death of Combs's father.

He said his parents are buried in one plot and the other three are for him and his two brothers.

"These were my mother's wishes, to be buried in consecutive plots beside them," said Combs. "So either I guess we go against my mother's wishes or we don't."

He said he doesn't blame the Griffith family at all, noting it is not their fault they were sold one of the plots his family owns.

"Certainly, no easy solutions for either family. What do we do? Do we dig up my mom and dad's plot too?"

Combs called what happened a terrible mistake and unfortunate.

"Mistakes are made and somebody needs to be responsible."

He offered his condolences to the Griffith family, but did note that the past few days have been extremely stressful for his family as well.

Griffith-Conway said her family has been told that this mistake happened because of a mapping error by the town.

She added this isn't the first time this has happened.

"I have caught wind since this has happened, this is not the first time; it's actually the second time. I don't know the timeline about the last time that it happened, but it also happened to someone else, but in the process of digging the hole, someone else was already buried in that spot, so they were able to rectify the situation before someone else was buried," said Griffith-Conway.

The other problem Griffith-Conway mentioned regarding the possibility of exhuming her father is that she and her siblings are Métis, and while her dad wasn't Indigenous, they are worried about what moving his body could do to his spirit.

"We question what that does to his spirit and living on in the afterlife," she said.

Dan Griffith

Source: Amanda Griffith-Conway

When it comes to the next steps, Griffith-Conway said they do have a lawyer to help with this process and they currently have a proposal from the town to cover all the costs of moving her dad's body. The proposal would also cover reimbursement for the plot of land and even covering legal fees, as she said there is quite a long legal process to exhume a body.

"We hope to reach an agreement with the family for relocation of Mr. Griffith's remains in which case the municipality will apply, at its expense, for the required Order authorizing the disinterment and for reburial permit. That application requires, amongst other things, the written consent of all immediate surviving next of kin of the deceased," Weidenhamer said in the letter.

"Definitely not much compensation for the emotional distress that we have been put through. Like I said, when we got that call on the 14th, we basically wound up at square one again," said Griffith-Conway.

CTV News Winnipeg reached out to the RM for comment but was told the municipality had no comment at this time.


Griffith-Conway said her dad was a carpenter in Deloraine and was a pillar of the community.

"He was always booked a year in advance pretty much. He did very reputable work for people and he was very talented at what he did."

She added that she has been told by others in the community that he was well respected.

Dan Griffith

Source: Amanda Griffith-Conway

When he was buried on Jan. 4, the family only had a small graveside service because of the health orders in place due to the pandemic.

Griffith-Conway said it didn't stop people from coming out as they stayed in their cars and lined the streets from her parents’ house, which is in the middle of town, all the way to the outskirts of town where the cemetery is.

"Some of the vehicles had tool belts hanging from their rear-view mirrors. It was just a very overwhelming experience."

She added that she appreciates all of the support her family has received since Dan passed away.