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Historic Gravelbourg convent vandalized

Senseless destruction leaves community upset, actively seeking those responsible.

GRAVELBOURG – Tenants of the Jesus and Mary Convent were met with a horrible sight recently. Shattered glass, damaged wood work and perhaps the most devastating, a pair of violently smashed statues with some of their plaster scattered about the hardwood chapel floor.

“We are unsure of when everything occurred but can say that our specific office was not vandalized, thankfully, although other tenants had damage to doors,” said Anna Smandych, president of the Gravelbourg Artisan Co-op. Members of the co-op rent rooms in the main floor of the convent, which is owned by the Town of Gravelbourg. Upon discovery of the damage, the Town and RCMP were immediately contacted.

“We are all deeply upset by the vandalism and destruction in the building, and hope that the RCMP are able to find the people who are responsible,” Smandych said.

The break and enter was reported to Gravelbourg RCMP immediately after the destruction was discovered. Sources noted that access was gained through the boiler room.

“Investigation determined that unknown individuals entered the building sometime between Dec. 2 and 4 and vandalized it,” RCMP said.

The convent, which is a municipal and a national historic site, has been a fixture in the area since construction was completed in 1918. While the building has not been used as a school since 2016, many cultural events are held at the site throughout the year. 

Town Councillor Paul Boisvert noted Council will address the issue during their next meeting and what steps need to be taken to enhance security. Some ideas include motion-sensing floodlights and security cameras.

“That alone would probably scare them away,” Boisvert said of the floodlights suddenly illuminating an area of entrance. He noted that there have been previous break-in attempts at the convent building. Boisvert was realistic on the threat of future break-in attempts as well.

“It’s not the first time, and it isn’t going to be the last time - even if we do put a security system up,” he said.

Anyone with information on the vandalism at the convent is asked to call the Gravelbourg RCMP at (306) 648-4350 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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