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Arson charges laid in church fire in Fort Chipewyan

Last Updated Oct 25, 2022 at 6:21 am MDT

FILE - An Alberta RCMP cruiser. (Tom Ross, CityNews Photo) 2022/03/P1120608-scaled.jpg 2022/03/P1120608-scaled.jpg 2022/03/P1120608-scaled.jpg

RCMP have laid charges against two men in connection to the fire that destroyed the Blessed Virgin Catholic Church in Fort Chipewyan.

On Aug. 25, 2022, at 2:34 a.m., RCMP received a complaint of a structure fire on the site located off Mackenzie Ave.

When emergency crews arrived, the church was fully engulfed in flames and burned to the ground.

READ MORE: Fire destroys 100-year-old church in Fort Chipewyan

In the wake of the tragedy, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation released a statement.

“The church, built in 1909, has been a part of the community for over one hundred years, and even though the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Roman Catholic Church is complicated the loss of the church will be deeply felt in the community.”

Also known as the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, the church was one of the oldest in Alberta.

Fort Chipewyan RCMP, with assistance from Regional Emergency Services (RES) and Wood Buffalo Forensic Identifications Services immediately launched an investigation.

As a result, police charged a 19-year-old from Fort Chipewyan with arson.

An arrest warrant for a 26-year-old, also from Fort Chipewyan, had been released, but he turned himself in to RCMP on Oct. 24, 2022.

RCMP say anyone who feels victimized by this crime is encouraged to contact Victim Services at (780) 788-4250.