Statement regarding the church fire
Date: August 25, 2022
Media Statement from the Holy Angels Indian Residential School Task Force concerning the fire at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Roman Catholic Church, Fort Chipewyan.
In the early hours of this morning (Thursday, August 25) our community was alerted to a fire that had broken out at the church on the site of the Roman Catholic Mission. Our volunteer firefighters attended, but the blaze was extensive and the church was destroyed.
The church was vacant at the time of the fire and no one was harmed. The RCMP are investigating the incident as suspicious.
Members of the Fort Chipewyan Métis Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation recently came together for two days of information gathering as part of the Fort Chipewyan Truth Scanning Project. We acknowledge and respect that this is an emotional time for our community.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Roman Catholic Church was built in 1909 and stood between the former site of the Holy Angels Indian Residential School, which is now the community arbour, and the building known locally as the priests’ quarters.
The church contained more than 100 years of history and memories. It was still used to this day for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Our focus will now be on identifying the needs of our community members, in particular our Elders, as we work on healing and moving forward.
The Holy Angels Indian Residential School Task Force would like to thank our volunteer firefighters and local RCMP for their efforts in containing the fire and safeguarding the wider community.
Further statements will be made in the coming days as we receive more information.
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About the Holy Angles Indian Residential School Task Force
The Holy Angels Indian Residential School Task Force is comprised of representatives from the Fort Chipewyan Métis Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Commencing April 2022 and working with the Canadian Association of Archaeology, we will undertake extensive ground scanning at the site of the Holy Angels Indian Residential School, which operated between 1874 and 1974, to identify the unmarked graves of our children. This project is known as the Fort Chipewyan Truth Scanning Project.