Over a dozen churches, most of them Catholic, have been burned in recent weeks, as the bodies of native children who died in residential schools are unearthed.
The spate of church burnings comes after the initial discovery of 215 deceased indigenous children in Kamloops, British Columbia in unmarked graves near the site of a former government-funded school run by members of the Catholic Church.
751 more children were found in graves at a similar school in Saskatchewan in June, prompting violence on the part of several vigilantes in Alberta and beyond.
Churches in Edmonton, Calgary and several locations in British Columbia were targeted in the attacks, with indigenous leaders calling for a halt to the violence.
“Some residential school survivors have remained Catholic, and now have lost their place of worship and comfort,” Jenn Allan-Riley, daughter of a school resident, told a press conference.
“Burning down churches is not in solidarity with us indigenous people. As I said we do not destroy people’s places of worship.
“We’re concerned about the burning and defacing of churches bringing more strife, depression and anxiety to those already in pain and mourning.”
⚡️Another Catholic church DESTROYED by fire in Canada – latest in a series of suspected arsons after residential school mass grave discoveries!
St. Jean Baptiste Parish, a century-old Catholic church north of Edmonton, Canada, burned down early Wednesday. (RT) pic.twitter.com/KKQ10gsdKd
— Moh Musthafa Hussain (@musthafaaa) July 1, 2021
— عبدالله الهُذلي | #هوية_الحجاز???????? (@A_Alhuthli_SA) July 4, 2021
Others online appeared reluctant to condemn the violence however.
This you Phil? ???? pic.twitter.com/ZqfCurXUU2
— Thomas O'Mahony (@OMathuna89) July 3, 2021
I wonder if apologists for the Church burnings in Canada would have the same response if it were Mosques being burned down in response to the Rotherham grooming gangs in the UK?
Somehow I don't think so https://t.co/HKlEzZKrNI
— Joshua Patchett (@PatchettJoshua) July 4, 2021
Some 150,000 indigenous children are thought to have been taken from their parents by successive Canadian governments in an attempt to force assimilation and have natives adopt French and English in residential schools.
The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report accused government, church and school officials of “cultural genocide” for their part in the system of re-education, with mortality rates among such children thought to be nearly five times higher than that of other Canadian children.