Nelson’s Catholic Church vandalized on Canada Day – Nelson Star


Orange paint was splashed on the exterior of a Catholic church in Nelson on Canada Day, the latest act of vandalism on churches following the discovery of bodies in residential schools.

Parishioners of Mary Immaculate Cathedral in downtown Nelson discovered damage to the exterior of the 122-year-old building early Thursday morning. A poster with the message “No pride in the genocide” was also stuck on the building.

Bishop Gregory Bittman said repairs would be costly for a church that doesn’t operate with a lot of money.

“They pay their bills, but it’s not that there’s huge amounts of money available for extra expenses like this,” Bittman said. “Because that’s what it does, it hurts the poorest and the people who go to the parish. This is what is very sad about it.

Churches in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia have either been vandalized or destroyed altogether since 215 bodies were discovered last month at Kamloops residential school.

More than 60% of the boarding schools were run by the Roman Catholic Church, which has never offered a papal apology to the victims, although the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver issued a formal apology last month. A delegation from the Assembly of First Nations intends to ask for a papal apology in December.

Assembly National Leader Perry Bellegarde and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have called for an end to vandalism.

Bittman acknowledged the anger felt by Canadians, but said she should not be taken to places of worship.

“I spoke with a native person whose church was burnt down and she said, ‘I pray for a forgiving heart. So I think that’s really what we have to do despite what has happened, we have to pray that we can forgive these people who do this. So that’s what I would say, and not to be put off by it all.

Christopher Yates, a Métis man, is among the Catholics who pray at Mary Immaculate Cathedral.

Yates’ great-grandfather and grandparents both attended residential schools, which he says resulted in intergenerational trauma for his family. But Catholicism, Yates said, is part of its history.

“When they took our kids to residential schools and my grandparents, it made us become Catholics,” Yates said.

“So these religions and beliefs and the comfort that we find in the Catholic Church and the Creator and God, are not disappearing quickly, and are not disappearing because of this discovery.”

At St. Joseph’s School next to the church, Yates worked with teachers to bring reconciliation into the curriculum. One project was in April, Yates and the West Kootenay Métis Society worked with students to build a drum.

If people want to be allies, he said, they should read the 94 calls to action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report instead of vandalizing churches.

“It’s something that every human, every person, can start to implement immediately,” Yates said.

“So if you want to be an ally, be an ally and listen to what indigenous people need. Do not take these steps on your own. It’s not being an ally, doing these things on our behalf.

@tyler_harper | [email protected]

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Orange paint was splashed on the exterior of the 122-year-old church.  Photo: Tyler Harper

Orange paint was splashed on the exterior of the 122-year-old church. Photo: Tyler Harper

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