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Home News Fire destroys Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre, cause still under investigation

Fire destroys Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre, cause still under investigation

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Fire destroys Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre, cause still under investigation
Two Prince Albert firefighters spray water over the charred remains of the Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert on Friday, April 15, 2022. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre was destroyed by fire on Friday, although firefighters from the Prince Albert Fire Department were able to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.

Crews were called to the scene at 8:26 a.m. on Friday after reports of a fire. They arrived with two aerial trucks and two engines to discover an extensive fire on the east side of the building.

Prince Albert Grand Council leadership said the loss of the building was shocking and devastating.

“We are heartbroken to lose one of the most iconic buildings of the Prince Albert Grand Council,” Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said in a media release.

A Prince Albert firefighter surveys the damage Friday afternoon in front of the old Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre. – Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“It had a reputation as the main gathering place for many of our community events, but it has been more than a meeting spot. It has also represented the home of our government for our 12-member Nations, and it has been a site where we have honoured many of our leaders over the years.”

The Prince Albert Police Service is investigating the cause of the fire. They’ve asked witnesses who were in the area between 8 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. to contact police if they have information about the fire.

Anyone who lives in the area and has surveillance equipment is also asked to check their video cameras for suspicious activity.

The building was named after the late elder and decorated veteran Senator Allan Bird of Montreal Lake Cree Nation. PAGC vice-president Joseph Tsannie said the loss will have a devastating impact on the community.

“We have relied on it as a central hub for many of our gatherings,” Tsannie said. “Just yesterday (Thursday) we used it as a site to distribute 1,500 Easter hampers for families in need. Until we recover and rebuild, the loss of our building will have an impact on future events, including our Fine Arts Festival, sporting events, wakes, round dances, and assemblies.”

PAGC vice-president Christopher Jobb said the destruction of the PAGC’s primary meeting place left everyone in a state of shock. The building was first built in 1940, and helped build lasting memories for the people who travelled to Prince Albert to use it.

“Many people have come to regard it as a place of healing,” Jobb explained. “We have been proud to be able to host big events, but into the near future, we will now have to think of different ways to bring our people together.”

The PAGC executive expressed gratitude to the Prince Albert Fire Department, which was still extinguishing the blaze well into Friday afternoon. They also thanked the Prince Albert Police Service and the City of Prince Albert.

The fire department issued an update at 4:17 p.m. on Friday saying firefighters would be on scene into the evening to extinguish hotspots.

No injuries were reported. As of press time, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Prince Albert Police Service can be contacted at 306-953-4222.