News / Edmonton

U of A heightens surveillance after arson attempt on Métis gift

The Red River cart, which was vandalized, is a relic signifying the university’s relationship with the indigenous community.

Vandals attempted to destroy this Red River cart this week at the University of Alberta.

Supplied/University of Alberta

Vandals attempted to destroy this Red River cart this week at the University of Alberta.

The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies is installing video surveillance outside their buildings after a recent arson attempt.

The vandalism happened sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning, when it is alleged someone stuffed newspaper into the Red River cart and tried to light it on fire.

The cart is a relic signifying the university’s relationship with the indigenous community, and stands beside a tipi on the lawn in front of Pembina Hall.

A staff member noticed parts of the cart were burned on Tuesday morning, and reported it to the University of Alberta Protective Services.

The Edmonton Police Service is also investigating the incident, and said they have no suspects in custody.

Security in the area will be increased in wake of the incident, Associate Dean of Research Chris Andersen said.

“It’s an awful thing to happen. I have no idea why somebody would do that, or why anybody would ever vandalize things,” Andersen said. “We had already had discussion with folks on campus about putting in surveillance cameras, and it’ll be expedited now.”

Red River carts were pulled by horses and used by the Métis people to transport goods across the prairies during the 19th century. The U of A’s cart was installed in November as a gift to the faculty from the Métis Nation of Alberta.

“I’m glad the university is taking it seriously,” Andersen said.

“At one level, we see this hopefully as the beginning of a broader conversation about disrespect for symbols on campus and especially respect for cultural symbols like these.”

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