Canada: Two More Catholic Churches Built On Indigenous Land Burnt Down

·3-min read

Two more Roman Catholic churches built on indigenous land were burned down in British Columbia province of Canada on Saturday (Jun 26) morning.

The incidents of church burning comes on the heels of the discovery of at least 2 mass graves of children at sites of Church-run Residential School fuelling the nation's anger over Catholic Church's treatment of indigenous people.

Two more Roman Catholic churches built on indigenous land were burned down in British Columbia province of Canada on Saturday (Jun 26) morning.

The churches, both in the Similkameen region, went up in flames early Saturday morning and both were destroyed completely.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say that just before 4 a.m. they received a call about a fire at St. Ann's Church, which is located just east of Hedley on Upper Similkameen Indian Band land. Later at 4:45 a.m. they got a call about a fire at Chopaka Church on Lower Similkameen Indian Band land, just east of Keremeos.

The fires come on the heels of similar incidents on June 21 (National Indigenous People’s Day), when two other Roman Catholic churches built on indigenous land were burned down in southern Okanagan in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Penticton South Okanagan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had announced that they were treating the fires as 'suspicious' and investigating.

The incidents of church burning comes within a month of discovery of mass graves of children at sites of Church-run Residential School fuelled the nation's anger over Canada and the Catholic Church's treatment of indigenous people.

On Jun 24, more than 750 unmarked graves were found near a former Catholic boarding school for indigenous children in Saskatchewan province of Canada

The graves were discovered on the site of the Marieval Indian residential school, also known as Grayson, after a search with ground-penetrating radar was launched on 2 June.

The Marieval Indian Residential School was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1899 to 1997.

On May 30, the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were discovered in British Columbia, Canada, buried underneath on the site of a former residential school for indigenous children.

Kamploops, which was shut in 1978, was one of boarding schools established with the objective to obliterate First Nation culture. The school was run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969. The institutions were notorious for the brutality it unleashed on the children. The school had a peak enrolment of 500 in the 1950s.

From the 19th century, more than 150,000 First Nations children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society.

The indigenous children were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and thousands died from disease, neglect and suicide. Up to 6,000 are said to have died. Physical and sexual abuse at the hands of school authorities led others to run away.

Canada's residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, constituted "cultural genocide," a six-year investigation had found in 2015.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that the residential schools were a system of "cultural genocide". It concluded that at least 4,100 students died while attending the schools, many of them due to abuse, negligence, disease, or accident.

The report highlighted in a great detail the horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended the schools, typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.

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