The tipi at the Camp Connections site about an hour outside of Yellowknife is one of the first things kids see from the highway as they approach — and now it's gone, said the executive director of the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT.
When the kids go out on the land Friday, they'll notice it's not there, said Tammy Roberts.
The organization, which uses the camp, is now pleading for the return of the tipi that was taken from the property sometime between Saturday and Friday.
"The hardest part about it is that space means so much to so many young people that when something is taken it's almost a personal trauma they have to endure. Our youth don't need to endure any more trauma," said Roberts.
The culprit made off with the canvas and tried, but didn't succeed, in taking the poles, she said, adding the theft would have to be an intentional act.
Sometimes the vandalism can feel personal, Roberts said, and it's not the first time that Camp Connections has been vandalized or disrespected. People have ransacked their wood supply and stolen a canoe.
Each time, community members have stepped up to replace the items.
The more the community looks at that space as being theirs, the more support we're going to have to ensure our spot is respected. - Tammy Roberts, executive director of Foster Family Coalition of the NWT
Someone has offered a $100 reward for information leading to the return of the 22-foot tipi, which was purchased in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., several years ago with around $2,300 in fundraising money.
"The more the community looks at that space as being theirs, the more support we're going to have to ensure our spot is respected," said Roberts.
If all else fails, Roberts said they will turn to fundraising, though she doesn't think it's the best option.
"I am hoping not to do that, because things are not easily replaced and I don't want to give that message to our youth either," she said.
Roberts said that if the person who took the tipi reads this, they should know that putting a tipi up is hard work.
"I would like it back and I would like it set up," she said.
Anyone who has information about the tipi can contact the Foster Family Coalition.