Calgary

Blood Tribe eager to rebuild torched Red Crow college 1 year later

Blood Tribe officials made a plea Monday for donations to help the reserve rebuild its community college, which was destroyed by a fire last summer.

Kainai Nation's community post-secondary school destroyed by arson last summer

A fire that destroyed Red Crow Community College on the Blood Tribe reserve in August 2015 was arson, investigators concluded. (Brian Burnett/CBC)

Blood Tribe officials made a plea Monday for donations to help the reserve rebuild its community college, which was destroyed by a fire last summer.

The Red Crow Community College on the Blood Reserve, about 230 kilometres south of Calgary, burned down last August in a fire that investigators later determined was caused by arson.

The building was once the St. Mary's residential school, which closed in the 1980s. It was retrofitted and reopened in 1995 as a college serving the Kainai Nation.

Billy Wadsworth, a council member of the Blood Tribe who also sits on the college’s board of directors, says the fire damage added to up to about $10 million. (CBC)

So far, the college has received only about $6,700 in donations — half of that from Telus, said college president Roy Weasel Fat.

That money has been used to buy supplies for the temporary location in Standoff, where roughly 200 students are studying.

"We were very saddened by the lack of cash donations received thus far after the fire but Red Crow Community College will move forward and rebuild," he said.

"We hope the public, the public sector and the government will join us on that journey and donate to our rebuilding efforts."

Billy Wadsworth, a council member of the Blood Tribe who sits on the college's board of directors, said the fire damage added to up to about $10 million. 

Until the 1980s, the college building housed the St. Mary's residential school. (Brian Burnett/CBC)

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and the tribe is continuing to negotiate a settlement with its insurance company.

"It's been difficult to accept the fact that insurance processes are so long," he said.

The fire also destroyed several irreplaceable cultural artifacts, such as recordings of tribe elders, Wadsworth said.

"It's been a difficult year," he said.

The tribe plans to rebuild the college on a site adjacent to its old location.

"We're optimistic and hopeful we can get the new construction in order very soon," he said.

Officials have created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the  reconstruction of the college. 

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