Emergency responders attended the Co-Cathedral of St. Patrick in downtown Yellowknife approximately 30 minutes into July 1.
The City of Yellowknife Fire Division (YKFD), RCMP, medics and the Municipal Enforcement Division (MED) responded to a call for fire response at around 12:30 a.m.
No flames were visible from the downtown church though emergency responders made use of the fire hydrant at the corner of 52 Avenue and 53 Street across from Bruno’s Pizza.
Bystanders gathered in nearby corners to watch vested responders enter the church’s side door on 53 Street with at least one responder at the front entrance on 52 Avenue.
One stain-glass window was broken on the side of the building.
Though no one from the on-scene authorities were authorized to speak with media, bystanding residents shared suspicions of an arson attack on the church.
Chris Wood lives in a nearby condo and heard the sirens arrive on scene.
“If it was on purpose I think it’s sad,” Wood said, adding that a beef against the church is one thing, but that the act endangers the surrounding houses and dozens of residents in the neighbourhood.
In the wake of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves by former residential schools, at least eight fires have broken out in churches across the country. Five in British Columbia, two in Alberta and one about 65 kilometres northeast of Halifax in Nova Scotia.
Wood, a member of the St. Patrick church for over a decade, said the congregation “expected if it was going to be anything that it was going to be tonight or tomorrow,” though he repeated his comments were merely speculative.
Approached on scene, Father Marek Pisarek declined to comment on the Canada Day emergency.
A representative with the Office of the Fire Marshal arrived on scene at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
This story will be updated.