“Albertans join the community of Fort Chipewyan in grieving the senseless loss of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Roman Catholic Church, a church with more than 100 years of history that burnt down in the early hours of Aug. 25. While the exact cause of the blaze is not yet known, law enforcement is investigating the destructive incident to determine if it was arson.

“While we collectively await further information, we cannot help but be reminded of similar incidents of hate that led to the destruction and vandalism of several churches in the summer of 2021 and wonder if the same hate and intolerance are at the root of this latest devastating act.

“Hate-motivated crimes like this have no place in Alberta, and our government has been working hard to offer protection and support to those who are being targeted.

“We have created additional law enforcement resources like the Hate Crime Coordination Unit and the Hate Crime Community Liaisons to fight hate in our communities and offer financial assistance to targeted organizations.

“The Alberta Security Infrastructure Program was specifically created to help reduce incidents like the fire in Fort Chipewyan. Organizations targeted by hate and bias can apply to be reimbursed for certain security expenses they have paid for since June 1, 2021, costs associated for an immediate security response, funding for professional security assessments, security training, implementing security risk management plans, and identified risk mitigation and countermeasures.

“In total, Alberta is offering $5 million this year alone through this program to help shore up protections for vulnerable groups in Alberta.

“I strongly encourage all religious, cultural and ethnic communities dealing with threats of hate and bias to learn more about the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program and how to apply for assistance. It could make a real difference for Albertans being targeted by these heinous crimes.”