People in a small community in P.E.I. are starting to speak out about a suspected arson last week, with some saying it might have been a hate crime against a gay couple.
"We are outraged. We're crushed by this," said Maureen Campbell-Hanley, a friend of the couple. "I'm devastated by this, completely devastated."
In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, a gay couple in Little Pond awoke to the sound of their window being smashed and a fire erupting inside their home. They escaped without injury.
The fire is the subject of a criminal investigation.
"This is two guys who were sleeping in their beds and an incendiary device came through the window in the early hours of the morning and they had to escape out the window, not knowing what was on the other side," Campbell-Hanley told CBC News.
"That's attempted murder."
Since the two men moved from British Columbia to the small community in eastern P.E.I. five years ago, their home has been broken into, their mailbox destroyed, and now, their house has been burned to the ground.
The couple have not spoken publicly about the incident. Their friends said the emotional damage is severe and the men are afraid for their lives.
"They don't even feel comfortable going back home to their own lot," said Harvey Francis.
"They asked somebody else to go with them when they picked up some of their other stuff because they feel scared, and why shouldn't they?"
Community support for the couple is growing.
On Sunday, Rev. Beth Johnston of nearby Dundas United Church spoke from the pulpit to urge tolerance and support. Some in the community have started to gather donations.
"Hate is not a value of Eastern Kings and we're not like that," Johnston said Monday. "We want to be a place where people — all people — can live in safety."
There are no suspects in the case.