Sentencing circle to determine fate of Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre arsonist

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 woman charged with burning down the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre last April has formally entered a guilty plea.

Gina Pearl Beatty was charged with one count of arson for starting the blaze that destroyed the building owned by the Prince Albert Grand Council. In Prince Albert Provincial Court Friday, Beatty’s lawyer and the Crown prosecutor submitted a joint request for a sentencing circle.

Sentencing circles involve inviting the judge, defence counsel, Crown prosecutor, and community members, along with the offender, the victim and their supporters to meet and discuss the offence, contributing factors, sentencing options and community reintegration.

Beatty was denied bail and the sentencing circle was set for July 7.

The Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre burned to the ground the morning of Friday, April 15, 2022. The building was named after the late elder and decorated veteran Allen Bird of Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

The multi-use event centre hosted fine arts festivals, sporting events, round dances, and assemblies. It was also used as a distribution base for things like the annual PAGC Easter hamper drive.