The burning of churches is “unacceptable and reprehensible”, says Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a wave of violence across Canada that saw a number of churches attacked.
Attacks on churches are said to be in retaliation for the grim discovery of the remains of Indigenous children in residential schools.
Residential schools were established in the 1800s to forcibly assimilate Indigenous peoples into Canadian society.
According to Canadian broadcaster CBC, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forced to attend schools from the 1870s to 1997.
In May, the remains of 215 children were found buried in unmarked graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which operated under the auspices of the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969. In his later years he was under control of the federal government before closing definitively in 1978.
Weeks later, in June, the Cowessess First Nation reported that 751 anonymous graves had been discovered at the site of another former residential school in Saskatchewan.
Trudeau said the findings were “a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced.”
The prime minister, a Catholic, also called on Pope Francis to issue a formal apology. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Pope Francis will meet with Indigenous Canadian leaders later this year over an apology.
Canada Day on Thursday saw a number of vandalized churches and desecrated statues, one of Queen Victoria and one of Queen Elizabeth II both toppled.
A 108-year-old Anglican church in Gitwangak, a First Nations village near New Hazelton, British Columbia, was completely destroyed by fire on Thursday evening.
That same night, an Anglican church in Tofino, British Columbia suffered minor damage in another suspicious fire.
Several Catholic churches have also suffered fires in recent weeks, prompting the federal government to pledge funding for church security.
Ten churches were reportedly desecrated in the state of Alberta on Canada Day.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said they include an African evangelical church in Calgary whose congregation is made up entirely of refugees.
“These people came to Canada with the hope that they could practice their faith peacefully,” he tweeted.
“Some of them are traumatized by such attacks.
“This is where the hatred based on collective guilt for historical injustices leads us. Rather, let us seek unity, respect and reconciliation.”
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trudeau mentionned he could understand the anger but added that acts of violence against churches were not the answer to the scandal.
“It is unacceptable and unfair that acts of vandalism and arson are seen all over the country, including against Catholic churches,” he said.
“I can’t help but think that burning down churches is in fact depriving people who are in need of mourning, healing and mourning (of) places where they can actually mourn, reflect and seek support.
“We shouldn’t be attacking buildings that can bring comfort to some of our fellow citizens. But we should, every day, each of us engage in the hard work that we need to do to actually rebuild a way forward. follow which reflects the terrible intergenerational trauma and current realities of suffering for which we are all collectively responsible. ”