Two more Catholic churches destroyed by fires in Canada 

WION
Ottawa Published: Jun 28, 2021, 02:16 PM(IST)

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )

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T Ann's Catholic Church on the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Chopaka Catholic Church in the Lower Similkameen Indian Band are believed to have been set ablaze less than an hour apart in the early morning hours of Saturday

Two more Catholic churches have been destroyed by fires in Canada. The two churches were located in indigenous communities in Western Canadian region of British Columbia. The incident follows grim discoveries of nearly 1,000 unmarked graves, at former church-run indigenous residential schools in the country.   

T Ann's Catholic Church on the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Chopaka Catholic Church in the Lower Similkameen Indian Band are believed to have been set ablaze less than an hour apart in the early morning hours of Saturday.  

Sergeant Jason Bayda of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement, "Both churches have been destroyed. (fires are) suspicious, and (authorities) are looking to determine any possible connection to the church fires in both Penticton and Oliver."  

Two other Catholic Churches had been destroyed in fires a week ago, on the day which Canada marks as the National Indigenous People's Day. No arrests have been made so far.  

The destruction of the four Churches comes at a testing time for Canada's indigenous peoples. The community is still struggling with the discovery of nearly a thousand bodies of indigenous children in mass graves at Church-run residential schools in Canada.  

The remains of 215 schoolchildren were discovered at a former residential school in Kamloops last month. While ground-penetrating radar mapping also helped locate 751 more unmarked graves at another school in Marieval this week.  

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised for the 'harmful' government policy of indigenous assimilation.  

A truth and reconciliation commission concluded Canada had committed 'cultural genocide'. 

The Canadian government's indigenous assimilation policy operated between 1831 and 1996. The policy backed residential schools run by the Catholic Church where over 150,000 indigenous children were forcefully enrolled. 

Around 4,000 children died of disease and neglect as many indigenous children were physically and sexually assaulted in these schools. Many indigenous children were also never reintegrated in their communities.  

Trudeau has urged the Pope to come to Canada and apologise for the Church's role in running these indigenous residential schools.

The Canadian Prime Minister said, "I have spoken personally directly with His Holiness Pope Francis to impress upon him how important it is not just that he makes an apology but that he makes an apology to indigenous Canadians on our soil. I know that the Catholic church leadership is looking and very actively engaged in what next steps can be taken."   

Earlier this month, Pope Francis stopped short of a direct apology but said he was pained by the discovery of the remains of 215 children and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native people.  

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