'It's a disgrace': Teepee vandalized at National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Winnipeg’s National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation announced Wednesday the teepee on site was seriously vandalized earlier in the week.

Winnipeg teepee protectors say more education is needed to prevent future vandalism.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation teepee was vandalized Monday. (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation)

The vandalizing of a teepee at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on the University of Manitoba campus is a "disgrace," says an Indigenous leader. 

The teepee, meant to serve as a safe place of dialogue, learning and teaching for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, was slashed open in several places.

Barbara and Clarence Nepinak, a married Indigenous couple who have been setting up a teepee and making bannock at The Forks for 20 years, said this isn't new but it's still upsetting.

"It's a disgrace that things like this happen," Clarence old CBC's Ismaila Alfa on Up to Speed Thursday. He comes from Pine Creek First Nation.

The teepee has been taken down for repairs. "This violation was deeply disappointing," said Ry Moran, the director of the centre, in a statement.

University president David Barnard said a police report was filed and the on-campus security service is investigating as well.

Clarence and Barbara Nepinak have been making bannock in their teepee at The Forks for two decades. (Jules Runne / CBC)

"I just felt really bad it happened because this is something we take pride in," Barbara Nepinak said. "We always feel we have a responsibility to take care of those, both physically and spiritually."

She is from Ebb and Flow First Nation.

Clarence said vandalism of teepees was a consistent problem at The Forks.

Clarence and Barbara Nepinak say this teepee at The Forks has been vandalized a number of times over the last 20 years. (Jules Runne/CBC)

"We haven't had our teepees vandalized at The Forks for seven or eight years, but it was a constant battle to keep putting them up, put them up, put them up, put them up," he said, adding they were found covered in graffiti and torn in the past.

Clarence said he thinks education is key to ending the vandalism.

"We need to educate the public about what they represent. We've been doing that for 20 years"

Barbara thinks the person or people involved will need to have their own conscience to reckon with. She thinks that she and the other people involved in protecting and maintaining the teepee will move forward.

"They have to go back there and do the right ceremony to show that forgiveness and be able to move on from there," she said.

- With files from CBC's Ismaila Alfa