Police investigate arson at residential school memorial in Calgary

A residential school memorial outside of Calgary’s City Hall was set on fire Tuesday. (Calgary Police Service)

Calgary police are investigating an arson that occurred at a residential school memorial at City Hall last night.

According to a media release, just before 11:30 p.m., on Tuesday, City of Calgary Corporate Security observed a man through CCTV as he appeared to attempt to light the memorial on fire before fleeing. Security officers extinguished the fire and called for assistance.

Police and the Calgary Fire Department quickly responded to the memorial where it was discovered several shoes and other objects were heavily damaged.

CCTV of suspect in memorial arson. (Calgary Police Service)

Investigators have released CCTV of the arson suspect. He is believed to have short hair and was wearing a black baseball hat, a black backpack, blue jeans, white-soled shoes and a long-sleeve plaid shirt.

Police say it’s still too early to know what motivated the suspect and investigators need time to investigate.

The Hate Crimes and Extremism Unit is assisting with the investigation to ensure any evidence of hate motivation is captured and handled appropriately.

“We are very aware of the current tensions in the community around residential schools and the acts of vandalism and arson that have been occurring. We will examine whether there is any connection in this case, but we are asking people in the meantime to be patient while we work to identify the suspect.”

The memorial was placed at city hall after hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children were found at former residential school sites across Canada.

Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect is asked to call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.