Politicians and indigenous leaders say that burning churches is not the way to get justice
The national leader of the Aboriginal Congress stated that he understands the anger, frustration, and pain caused by unmarked graves found at the former boarding school, but turning this pain into burning the church will not bring justice.
“Burning things is not our way,” Perry Bellegard said on Wednesday. “Our way is to build relationships and come together.”
After unmarked graves were found in former boarding schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, several Catholic churches have recently been damaged or damaged in fires.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with the country chief and other indigenous leaders, responded to the call to end the fire.
“This is not the way to go. Destruction of places of worship is unacceptable and must stop,” Trudeau said.
“We must work together to correct the mistakes of the past.”
Early on Wednesday morning, a historic Catholic church in Alberta was destroyed by fire, and a native Catholic church in Nova Scotia was destroyed by fire.
Alberta Governor Jason Kenny condemned the fire in the Diocese of St. Jean Baptiste in Molineville, about 40 kilometers north of Edmonton, on Twitter, calling it a “violent hate crime against the Catholic community” .
Watch: The RCMP is investigating after a catholic church east of Edmonton was destroyed by fire.
Audrey Poitras, chairman of the Metis Nation in Alberta, said the town and church have a close relationship with the Metis community.
“Some of our citizens got married there. Some people left shoes on the steps to commemorate the children who died in boarding schools,” Poitras said in a statement.
“In these difficult times, violence and destruction are not the way forward.”
Four small Catholic churches on aboriginal lands in rural southern British Columbia were also destroyed by suspicious fires. An vacant former Anglican church in northwestern British Columbia was recently damaged. The RCMP said it may have been arson.
Less than a month after the fire, the remains of 215 children believed to be found in an unmarked grave at a former boarding school in Kamloops, British Columbia
The Cowessess Aboriginals of southeastern Saskatchewan announced last week that ground penetrating radar had found 751 potential unmarked graves on the site of the former Marieval Indian Boarding School.
On Wednesday, the Lower Kootenay Band in British Columbia said that the same technology had found the remains of 182 people in an unmarked grave near a former boarding school.
Approximately 150,000 Indigenous children are forced to attend boarding school, which has a history of more than 120 years in Canada. More than 60% of schools are operated by the Catholic Church.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed the school’s abuses, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of children. It also found that crowded living conditions, malnutrition and substandard medical care make children more likely to die from diseases and infections.
David Chartrand, deputy chairman of the Metis National Committee, said that many indigenous people are Catholics, and the destruction of the church may confuse the trauma they have experienced.
Chartrand will be part of the Aboriginal delegation that will visit the Pope later this year. Earlier this week, he stated that although an apology is needed, the church continues to play an important role in the lives of some Aboriginal people.
“We have established some customary processes in the culture around the church.”
Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and triggered by these reports can receive support.
A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to boarding school survivors and other affected people. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.