Boy, 12, charged with arson in Shamattawa

A 12-year-old boy was arrested after a blaze destroyed the northern Manitoba community's only grocery store and band office.

RCMP confirm male youth was charged after arrest last month

Manitoba RCMP tweeted this photo of Sgt. Ryan Merasty spraying water on the fire in Shamattawa, Man., last month. (RCMP/Twitter)

A 12-year-old boy has been charged with arson in connection with the fire that destroyed Shamattawa's only grocery store and band office, RCMP confirm.

The boy was one of six children RCMP believe were involved in setting the blaze last month. The other children are under 12 and cannot be charged.

The fire crippled some essential services in the remote northern Manitoba community. A state of emergency was declared after the blaze razed the Northern Store and band office and damaged the community's radio station and 911 service.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs had previously called on the RCMP not to "criminalize" the boy by charging him.

Instead, Nepinak said at the time other "confounding factors" should be considered, including "a lack of infrastructure for youth, a lack of opportunity a lack of alternatives to make sure that our young people can flourish."

The boy was arrested last month and released on a promise to appear in court.