The presence of the much-loved Mongolian yurt in Attawapiskat ended abruptly on April 1 when it was apparently set on fire and burned to the ground. Despite their best efforts, the local volunteer fire crew could not save the structure. The cause of the fire is unknown and an investigation is underway.

The authentic Monoglian yurt from the Occupy Toronto movement was a gift from OPSEU as part of a larger initiative to build connections with the remote northern community.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence envisioned a social, creative gathering place for her community, a place filled with sewing machines and accessories, art supplies, and games for everyone. “It is a loss for my community; it had great potential, “said the Chief about the yurt, “its loss will be felt.”

In an email sent to the group of volunteers who delivered the yurt to Attawapiskat in February, OPSEU executive board member Gord Longhi wrote: “I know this is really sad and hurtful to take but don’t lose the message that we delivered to the community. This was the act of perhaps one angry person. Not the sentiment of the community at large. We brought more than a yurt to Attawapiskat. We let them know that there are many people and organizations that care and are willing to help.”

“When the Occupy protestors were evicted from the park it was said you cannot evict an idea, the same holds true here,” said OPSEU President Smokey Thomas, ” I hope the community will continue to develop and implement creative programs for their kids.”