Tribal leaders have called for an immediate end to the arson attacks on Catholic churches. Jane Allen-Riley, the daughter of a former student at an Indigenous boarding school, said the church fire “increased the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people”. The burning of churches is “not the style of the indigenous people”.
As recently as this week, a church in Calgary and a church in Ontario went up in flames. Five Catholic churches have been completely burned down since June. In all, authorities have so far reported about a dozen arson attacks on churches.
The attacks began soon after several unmarked grave areas were discovered, where experts found the remains of more than 1,000 children using ground-penetrating radar. The sites are in each case on former plots of boarding schools for indigenous children. In the 19th and 20th centuries, more than 150,000 children of Indigenous mothers were placed – often forcibly – in Canadian homes. Many of the more than 130 institutions across the country were run by Catholic religious orders. They should introduce the children to “Christian Civilization” on behalf of the state.
Other indigenous communities had previously commented on the arson attacks. The advice of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band was stunned by the destruction. A message said the violent reaction was understandable, in part, because the descendants suffered from “cross-generational trauma”. Yet, this path does not lead to reconciliation. (kna)