Emergency crews were called to the Peepeekisis Roman Catholic Church around 5 a.m. on Friday, but they were unable to save the building. The church, which was built in 1901, was a divisive structure in the community.

Tim Dieter arrived to inspect the still-smoking ruin before noon on Friday. His family attended the church.

“I have family buried here too. Lots of them,” he said, while pointing towards the cemetery behind the remnants of the church.

“It hurts me to see this happen,” he said.

But Patricia Dieter rejoiced when she heard the church was gone. She sees it as the removal of a symbol of religious oppression.

“As a person who participates in a lot of traditional ceremonies I think this is really an indication that good things are going to happen in our community,” she said.

Patricia Dieter told CTV News that her family was divided by religion two generations ago, when Catholic and Presbyterian priests separated her grandfather from his sister.

“They didn’t speak to each other for years. It was almost forbidden by the church for them to have too much to do with each other,” she says.

It is the third church to burn to the ground in the past year. Last June the United Church at Peepeekisis was destroyed and in November the Catholic Church at Cowessess First Nation also burned down.

The File Hills First Nation Police are investigating the two Peepeekisis fires. Police Chief Lennard Busch said that the trend of churches burning down was “concerning” and that arson is being considered as a cause.

The Saskatchewan RCMP told CTV News that the Cowessess fire investigation is also still active.