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The Fort Smith Christmas tree was a landmark throughout the winter. (Submitted by Sarah Pruys) Jimmy Thomson is a videojournalist based in Hay River, NT. He graduated from UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism after earning a B.Sc. in biology at St. Francis Xavier University. You can find him on Twitter at @jwsthomson.

At 2:17 a.m. on Friday morning, a beloved Fort Smith landmark hit the ground.

The town’s "Christmas tree," which has been decorated every year in living memory, was felled to make way for a conference centre being built by the Salt River .

"Christmas will never be the same," says Lucy Villebrun, who grew up in Fort Smith, and says on cold nights she has even warmed up by the heat of the tree’s lightbulbs.

The tree was a landmark. Older than most of the town’s residents, it stood well above the height of most trees and in the winter could be seen from all over town.

It was planted by the Schaefer family, who owned the lot before the First Nation purchased it.

Villebrun was driving late Thursday night when she saw a construction vehicle getting ready to work.

"I thought, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to cut down the tree,’" she says. She watched as the crew set to work, and watched until the tree fell. The tree was taken down at 2:17 in the morning on July 7. (Submitted by Lucy Villebrun) Friday morning when she returned to the site, only the stump remained — "along with multiple strings of Christmas lights," she says. "That was the heartbreaking part."Villebrun said she is saddened by the loss of the tree and the longstanding traditions that took place around it."I think there was total disregard for the community and how passionate they felt about this Christmas tree," she says. No comment from […]

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