Two Roman Catholic churches built on indigenous land burned down on National Indigenous Peoples Day
Two Roman Catholic churches built on native land were burnt down in the South Okanagan, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, Vancouver Sun reported.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Penticton-South Okanagan consider the fires, which occurred on National Aboriginal Peoples Day, to be “suspect”.
Vancouver Sun quoted Penticton South Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Jason Bayda said an officer on patrol spotted a fire emerging from Sacred Heart Church on Penticton Indian Band lands at around 1:20 a.m.
Less than two hours later – at 3:10 a.m. – Oliver RCMP and Oliver Fire Department were informed that St. Gregory Church on Osoyoos Indian Band lands was on fire.
“Both churches have burned down and the police consider the fires to be suspect,” Bayda said.
The church fire incidents come less than a month after children’s mass graves were found in a former Indian residential school, fueled the nation’s anger against Canada and the Catholic Church’s treatment of the people indigenous.
The remains of 215 children, some as young as three, were discovered in British Columbia, Canada, buried under the site of a former residential school for Indigenous children.
From the 19th century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children had to attend publicly funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their mother tongue. Many have been beaten and verbally assaulted, and up to 6,000 are believed to have died.
Kamloops Indian Residential School, which closed in 1978, was one of the residential schools created to erase First Nations culture. The school was run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969. The institutions were known for the brutality it unleashed on children. The school had an enrollment peak of 500 in the 1950s.
The federal government took over administration of the school from 1969 to 1978, using the building as a residence for students attending other Kamloops schools.
Kamloops Indian Residential School operated from 1890 to 1969.
Canada’s residential school system, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families, amounted to “cultural genocide,” a six-year investigation had revealed in 2015.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that residential schools were a system of “cultural genocide”. He found that at least 4,100 students died while attending schools, many of them due to abuse, neglect, illness or accident.
The report highlighted in great detail the horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended schools, usually run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa, 1840s to 1990s.
“The news that remains was found at the old Kamloops residential school breaks my heart – it is a painful reminder of this dark and shameful chapter in our country’s history. I think of all who are touched by this distressing news. We’re here for you, “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Friday.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) urged federal government and the Roman Catholic Church to take action following the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
In a press release, IRSSS Co-Chair Rick Alec, a member of the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation, specifically called on the Pope to act.
“My Creator asks their God why the disciples would do this to us,” he said. “The Pope must answer this question. There is no longer to deny it. Now there is physical evidence of these anonymous graves.”