Funeral held in Montreal for man who died near irregular border crossing

MONTREAL — More than three dozen people gathered at Montreal-North funeral home today to pay their last respects to a man few in attendance had ever met.

The body of Fritznel Richard, 44, was found in a wooded area in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. earlier this month, and provincial police have said they believe he likely died of hypothermia while trying to enter the United States.

Richardson Charles Alida, one of the few at the funeral who knew Richard, says his friend decided to go to the U.S. to reunite with his wife and one of his two sons and because he believed he would be able to get legal status in that country.

Frantz André, a spokesman for a Montreal-based group that helps undocumented people, says Richard, a Haitian asylum seeker, was waiting for a work permit at the time of his death.

Richard's death led to shows of solidarity by members of the city's Haitian community and others, with a local funeral home donating many of its services and community members covering other costs.

Richard's body was found near an unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road, where RCMP intercepted nearly 40,000 asylum seekers last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2023.

The Canadian Press