Over the past several weeks, more than 20 churches of various denominations in different provinces of Canada have been burned or vandalized, media reported.
On June 21, two Catholic churches (St. Gregory and the Sacred Heart of Jesus) burned down in the province of British Columbia: then the country celebrated National Day of Indigenous Peoples. Less than a week later, two Catholic churches (St. Anne and Our Lady of Lourdes) burned down at one hour intervals in the same province. All of them were located in the Indian communities living in western Canada. According to firefighters, the incidents were suspicious. At the site of one of the churches, traces of a flammable liquid were found. According to the priest who served in this church, it was an obvious arson. In his opinion, it was committed by provocateurs, and not by the Indians themselves.
On June 26, the porch of St. Paul in British Columbia on land owned by the Indians, but the fire was quickly extinguished. However, on the night of July 1, as a result of repeated arson, the church burned to the ground, and at the same time another Anglican church (St. Columba) in the same province, which was only slightly damaged, was set on fire.
It was also reported that since the beginning of June, at least three churches have been looted and desecrated in the western city of Vancouver. There was a video of how unknown persons in masks paint the buildings of the temples with orange and white colors.
Also on July 1, Canada Day, in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a group of opponents of the former colonial policy, among whom, presumably, could be Indians, doused with paint and then knocked down from the pedestal statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Victoria, installed in front of the provincial legislature.
On the night of July 1 alone, attacks were carried out on 10 churches in the city with a population of one million Calgary in the province of Alberta in the south of the country. A day earlier, on June 30, a Catholic church near Edmonton, Alberta was completely burned down in an arson attack, CBC reported.
One of the affected churches in Calgary belonged to the African community, according to Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenny. He noticed that only refugees prayed in this evangelical church, in whose homeland churches are constantly burned down and subjected to acts of vandalism. “These people came to Canada hoping to practice their faith freely here … For some of them, these attacks are a real trauma.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned church burning and vandalism in the country.
Police do not rule out the spike in violence could be linked to the recent discovery of the remains of hundreds of children – believed to be Indian children – near three former boarding schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, which were largely run by the Catholic Church on behalf of the state. Over the past two months, more than 1,100 remains of teenagers, including three-year-old children, have been found in unmarked graves (in the city of Kamloops, near the city of Cranbrook and in the village of Marival).
Indigenous children (more than 150,000 in total) were forcibly taken to such boarding schools for training and assimilation into Canadian society from the mid-19th century to the 1990s. These institutions were poorly funded, the buildings were dilapidated, unsanitary conditions reigned in them, and children were sometimes mistreated: according to some reports, there were cases of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, they were forbidden to speak their native language, and medical experiments could be carried out on them. As a result, children died of exhaustion, beatings, hunger and infectious diseases, never returning home. In 2008, a commission was formed to investigate incidents in boarding schools, and after its completion, the country’s authorities recognized the policy of forced assimilation and the activities of these schools as “cultural genocide” and officially asked for forgiveness from the indigenous people, promising them monetary compensation. This news shocked the country’s public, which demanded that excavations be carried out on the territory of the rest of the boarding schools.
According to the police, the desecrators of churches often leave the inscription “215” on their walls – this is how many unmarked graves were found on the site of the former boarding school in Kamloops. As of the end of June, no one had been arrested and no one had been charged. The investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the leader of one of the Indian communities told reporters that he was very angry and upset when he learned about the fires, adding that many in his community are members of the Catholic Church.
Some traditionalists blame the series of church pogroms on “ultra-left radicals and liberals” (of whom there are many in the media and government), who hate the Church and sow division in Canadian society. In their opinion, one should not rush to explain the arson by the anger of the Indians, and the recent discovery of the graves liberals could have chosen as a pretext for starting an anti-church campaign.
“This is a clear wave of hate crimes against the Church! Justin Trudeau, who usually reacts to everything first, was silent for a whole week and said only something like this: “It’s not good to do this.” The problem is that there is either silence from above or tacit support, ”said Ezra Levant, a right-wing political observer, writer, TV presenter and founder of Rebel News.
“Among the parishioners of the temples there are often representatives of indigenous peoples. They themselves ask: “Do not burn our temples.” This is the Canadian equivalent of Black Lives Matter supporters burning down African American businesses in their neighborhoods. I think these are dark days for religious freedom in Canada, ”he said.
On July 3, South Asian activist, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association executive director Harsha Walia, who works with feminist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist movements, tweeted “burn them all down,” referring to churches.