A man is in police custody after a fire destroyed the only church at a remote First Nation in northern Manitoba on Easter Sunday in a suspected case of arson.

St. Theresa Point Chief Marie A. Wood says about an hour after morning mass, a blaze erupted from what appeared to be the entrance of St. Theresa Point Roman Catholic Church.

Wood says Father Victor Ferdinand stood by and supported the anguished community members, who watched as it burned.

RCMP from the Island Lake dispatch arrived at the scene at 2:50 p.m. after being alerted of the situation by First Nation Safety Officers. RCMP Manitoba says they were told about a 32-year-old man seen leaving the church as the fire started. They then arrested him.

Members of the congregation had already been fundraising to build a new church as the 65-year-old building, now a total loss, was in need of significant repairs.

No one was hurt and the cause is under investigation. 

St. Theresa Point is approximately 450 km northeast of Winnipeg.


With files from The Canadian Press