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Cowessess church burns down

author: kaitlynn nordal | staff writer


hearts of fire / Jeremy Davis

Unclear if church will be rebuilt

in collaboration with the University of Regina School of Journalism this article was produced as part of a journalism course. It has then been edited by our staff.

Sacred Heart of Mary Church, which has been on Cowessess First Nation since 1936, burned down in an early-morning fire on Nov. 14.

The structure, which began as a mission church, had recently undergone a roughly $17,000 renovation to its roof, shingles, and eaves troughs.

The white wooden church sat nestled at the bottom of the Qu’Appelle Valley, 166 kilometres east of Regina, along with the school and the community hall.

“The Church was a historical building on the First Nation,” Chief Cadmus Delorme said by email.

“For over four generations, families have been married, baptized, and attended church. These memories will not be forgotten but the physical building gone put a sad feeling to many. “

In 2009, church council had a meeting where it voted to close down the church as attendance had been down and they were unsure what else to do.

Garth Sapara, a church chairman since 2010, voted against closing the church.

“Down here we have a provincial park, people go camping on Sundays. If church is 10 miles away, are they going to go? Most likely not. So if it’s handy and mass is quick and whatever (they might go).“

“Over the last eight years, attendance at the church had gone up, really boomed in the last four,” Sapara estimates attendance had never been higher than this year.

Since the Church is also attached to the Residential School, Chief Delorme said there was mixed feelings about it being there from the survivors.

As of Nov. 19, the Bishop plans on going to Chief and Council for discussions to see if the church will be rebuilt or not.

The Bishop would like to reach out and have discussions about it, as he assumes the residents were not originally consulted about the church being built.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

About Kaitlynn Nordal