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‘I thought it was a myth’: Piece of history survives devastating fire at Peepeekisis church
Published Thursday, July 5, 2018 5:59PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, July 5, 2018 8:40PM CST
Weeks after a devastating fire tore through a 100-year-old church on Peepeekisis Cree Nation, a piece of history was found beneath the ashes.
Ernie Dieter has lived on the First Nation all his life. He drives by the destroyed Wanakapew United Church Daily. After the church burned down, he was told to look in the rubble to see what had survived the fire.
“First day, I never found it, second day I didn’t find it,” he told CTV News. “I thought it was a myth.”
The church burned down on June 16. On Canada Day, Dieter went back for one more try — and found what he was looking for.
Dieter chipped away at a corner stone in the foundation, revealing a message in a bottle. The four pages inside survived the fire’s extreme heat.
“The first thing I (saw) on there was Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dieter,” he said. “That was my great-grandfather, that was my dad’s dad’s dad that did that.”
One letter contained the names of the people who helped build the foundation of the church in 1956, as well as a description of all of the people who helped renovate the foundation.
Greg Brass is one of the people who built the foundation. His name is on the piece of paper.
“I was just an 11 or 12-year-old, but I would have been picking up nails or carrying tools for my dad,” Brass said. “My dad was a carpenter, as was my grandfather who built the church. Kind of a pleasant surprise actually.”
Dieter has told both the First Nation and the United Church about his discovery. They agreed to have the documents archived and protected.
“This message isn’t just mine,” Dieter said. “It’s for everyone. This message shows how once the families came together to help each other.”
Once the documents are archived and protected, Dieter wants to build a replica of the church and a monument with a copy of the documents beside where the church once stood — to help share the history with everyone.
Based on a report by CTV Regina's Creeson Agecoutay