After 751 unmarked tombs were found, the Saskatoon Catholic Cathedral was covered in paint

Warning: This story contains distressing details.

On Thursday afternoon, the door of a Roman Catholic church in downtown Saskatoon was painted with paint after hundreds of unmarked graves were found at the former Marieval Indian boarding school.

A video of the event posted on social media showed a woman painting and splashing red paint on the door and the logo of the St. Paul’s United Cathedral.

Photos after the incident showed that the words “We are children” were scribbled on the church door.

The Catholic Church has been criticized for its role in the boarding school system, especially for its reluctance to provide records related to the cemetery.

On Thursday, Cowessess First Nation announced the initial discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the former boarding school. The news caused shock and anger across the country.

This discovery was made after another discovery by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia, when the aboriginal declared that a cemetery had been found near the former Kamloops Indian boarding school. Preliminary investigation results indicate that the site contains the remains of 215 children.

Church response

Father Stefano Pena, the pastor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, said that this was the second time this happened after the body was found at the boarding school in his church.

He said he understood the anger of the indigenous people.

“My heart is broken for everything I have done in the name of Christ, but in reality it is more through acquiescence to government and social policies, trying to’civilize and colonize’ people by depriving them of their identity,” he said .

“This is an expression.”

Pena said he wanted to sit down with the team that organized the event to listen to their opinions.

“We must stop seeing people as thoughts, but instead see people as people,” he said.

This is what happened to the boarding school… When the police came in and took them away, these were not children and families with faces. ”

However, he said he did not agree with these actions.

“This is objectively a crime. This is vandalism. It should not be done to any crosswalk with rainbow flags or to any mosque or any synagogue,” he said.

“We will never solve anything that was annoying in the past by continuing to hate.”

The priest Stefano Penna of St. Paul’s Cathedral wanted to sit down with the crowd protesting in his church. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Emotional experience

An eyewitness said that watching this event was a wonderful experience.

Cathy Bohachik was outside the cathedral commemorating the 60th anniversary of her parents’ marriage when about 20 people approached the area in orange shirts. Then a woman left the crowd and started painting the door.

“Very solemn, very peaceful, very beautiful,” she said.

“She started to make her work, and we were actually speechless.”

Bohachik is a Catholic and she said that she had never heard of the boarding school system when she was growing up.

“This is the most amazing experience I have ever seen in Saskatchewan,” she said.

“I was very emotional all night and I am grateful to see it there.”

Bohachik said the woman was approached by the police and ordered to leave. A spokesman for the Saskatoon Police said that no charges have yet been filed.

On Friday morning, a security guard was sent outside the cathedral. (Chelsea Cross/CBC)

Anger and resentment

Doug Cuthand, a columnist for Indigenous Affairs, said that in light of recent events, he was not surprised that this happened.

He said that for many years, the indigenous people across the country have had a lot of anger and resentment. He mentioned two Catholic churches that were burned down This week in Penticton India and Osoyoos India and Demolition of the statue of Father Joseph Sugner The Catholic cemetery of the Sacred Heart in Lebre.

“This is something we must expect,” he said.

“The church has become a goal, and we can look forward to more in the future.”

Although Kahand said that burning down the church is unacceptable, he said that the indigenous people have the right to be angry about the role of the church in boarding schools.

“Many people remember their knuckles being beaten by a nun or tied by a priest,” he said.

“They have been harboring all these feelings all these years. So yes, I hope this will overflow.”

By Friday morning, the paint had been removed and a security guard had been dispatched outside the church.

Watch | The Pope is under increasing pressure to ask the boarding school to apologize:

Megan Williams of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported in Vatican City the Catholic Church’s response to requests for an apology for the role of the Church in Canadian boarding schools. 2:24

On Thursday, the Catholic bishop of Saskatchewan gave a speech on Cowessess’ findings, calling the experience “heartbreaking and devastating”, especially for boarding school survivors.

The statement went on to say that the bishops supported the reconciliation and pledged to support Cadmus Delorme, Chief of Cowessess First Nation.

Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can get support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been set up to provide support to survivors and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services. Now you can dial 306-522-7494 to use the special line in Saskatchewan.

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