Covenant Funeral Homes celebrates 4th anniversary in Black History Month
Canada’s first Black-owned funeral home
Covenant Funeral Homes Inc. (CFH) is Canada’s first Black-owned funeral home, and is celebrating its 4th year of operations.
Founder of CFH, Luann Jones says she began the business following a car accident over 20 years ago, “That brush with my own mortality, helped me realise the importance of helping families transition with the loss of their loved ones. After the accident, while I was in rehab, I took a temperament test and it showed I had the skills to be a funeral director. I already had an interest in the field, so I enrolled in Humber College for Funeral Service Education, and graduated in 1999. People taught I was crazy, and wanted to know why I would want to deal with dead people. And when I did tell people what I did, they didn’t want to talk to me anymore. People can be superstitious, as though just talking about death would make something bad happen to them.”
After graduating, Jones had trouble getting a placement in the funeral home, and so worked for several months with a company which facilitates staffing for the funeral industry.
However, her time at Humber left an indelible impression on her. “Once I got into the program, I noticed that I was the only black student in my year. I had to search to find past students who looked like me, and when I did find one, that person was no longer in the industry. So I decided to make it my mission to start my own funeral home; I would work until I felt confident that it was something I could do. It took 18 years, but in 2015, I invested in a property, and then got an opportunity to purchase another funeral home a year ago. That second property became Covenant Funeral Home in 2016.”
Jones’ foray into funeral services did not begin with the help she hoped for, “Initially I had spoken to people in my community, who promised to support me, but when I was ready to invest they said they weren’t interested.”
“In one case, I presented my business plan to someone who claimed they lost it. I was also approached by an organization who wanted to employ me, and I didn’t want to be an employee. Their focus was on profit and not community service, and when I declined the offer they were insulting to me.”
Jones says, however, all of these negative experiences have helped to mould her.
“These experiences have made me wiser and stronger as a black business woman owner in the community, and helped me to appreciate the value of hard work and sacrifice. I also value the support of my community, as without it I wouldn’t have families to serve.”
Since 2016, Covenant Funeral Homes Inc has served over 500 families. The business is also a corporate sponsor for several community organizations such as the Alliance of Guyanese-Canadian Association.
Jones says CFH also offers a scholarship for a single parent pursuing post- secondary studies, through the Jamaican Canadian Association. The CFH also offers a second scholarship at Humber College, for a single parent pursuing studies in funeral services.
Covenant offers a range of services to families, including pre-planning a funeral, traditional and cremations services, repatriation services, memorial services as well as grief support. Jones says the business is planning to expand within Canada, and then go international.