A family living in Innisfail is at odds with town officials over a pair of tents on their property they say are part of their First Nations heritage.
Mary Voelkers tells CTV News they were told by authorities to remove two soft-sided parking tents that have been set up on their property for the past four years.
She says the tents are often used to honour her father's culture where her entire family often comes together to pray.
Voelker’s father is from Little Pines First Nation in Saskatchewan and passed on many of the Cree traditions he was raised with.
"So I’ve tried to hold on to a little bit of my heritage," she says. "And so that’s what I do with the tents."
Along with her daughter Lisa and other family members, the two tents on the large residential property are used as gathering places in the warm months.
"We go in there in summer time about once or twice a week and we pray."
But in August, someone complained to the town’s bylaw department, citing a 20-year-old rule that bans any soft-sided structure from staying up for more than a week.
The Voelkers have lived in the home for 45 years and say there are dozens of other similar tents in yards all over town that have not been ordered removed.
"It only took one person to complain after four years of them being up, so I don’t think it’s quite fair."
Her daughter Lisa says the bylaw doesn’t seem to be evenly enforced.
"They had said that they have ordered two other people to remove theirs this July and we are the third one, and that they are going to work real hard to try and get everybody else to get theirs down as well."
They appealed the removal order but were denied by council last week. They have until the end of October to remove the tents or the town will remove them at their expense.
No one from the Town of Innisfail was available to comment today.