Warning: This story contains distressing details.
On Saturday morning, two other Catholic churches in the Southern Inland Reserve of British Columbia were burned down.
Keith Crow, the chief of the Lower Simil Cumming Indian Band, said that he received a call at about 4 am Pacific time saying that the Chopaka Church was on fire. When he arrived about 30 minutes later, it had been burned.
“I’m very angry,” Crowe said. “I don’t think this will bring any positive effects. It will be very difficult.”
Crowe said that he later received a call from the Upper Simmel Carmen Indian Band near Hedley, saying that a church in the reserve had also been burned down.
The Upper Similkameen Indian Band confirmed that St. Ann’s Church was destroyed overnight. A representative of the band said that officials are currently working with the RCMP at the scene of the fire.
CBC News contacted the RCMP about the fire, but has not received a response.
‘It’s not just a coincidence’
Crow said that the fire in his community is still under investigation, but he said it was a fact that happened after the fire burned down overnight. Two other churches in Okanagan It was suspicious earlier this week.
“There must be more,” he said. “This is not just a coincidence.”
According to a written statement from the two RCMP detachments on Monday, the police previously stated that they regarded the two fires in Okanagan as suspicious.
Crowe said people in the community were very upset about the fire.
He said that many of them are members of the Catholic Church and are still struggling to deal with last month’s news that the initial scan found The remains of up to 215 children Buried in a former boarding school in Kamloops, British Columbia, about 200 kilometers north of Hedley.
Earlier this week, Cowessess First Nation said the initial scan found Hundreds of unmarked graves Located in the former Marieval Indian boarding school in Saskatchewan.
Stuart Phillips, chairman of the British Columbia Union of Indian Chiefs and Great Chief, previously told CBC News that members of the Penticton Indians have “complex sentiments” towards the Catholic Church.
Philip said that some members of the community “have a strong hatred of the Catholic Church in terms of their boarding school experience.”
Crow said that he is participating in a caravan of leaders, Indian boarding school survivors, families and elders who will travel from Penticton to Kamloops on Saturday.
He said that hundreds of people plan to participate in the caravan, which shows the unity of the people of the entire region.
“It feels good for me to do this today, but I am upset about the church being burned down last night,” he said.
The team is organized by Syilx Okanagan 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 established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.