5 Churches Set on Fire and Destroyed in One Week in Canada - First Nations Chief says "To burn things down is not our way,"
A Roman Catholic church located in Morinville, Alberta, Canada was set on fire Wednesday, June 30, 2021, which is the fifth Canadian church destroyed in one week.
These fires follow the discovery of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children discovered buried in unmarked graves at the former Indian Residential Schools.
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says he understands the anger by the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools, but explains that burning down churches will not bring justice. "To burn things down is not our way," Perry Bellegarde said Wednesday. "Our way is to build relationships and come together."
The church construction was completed in 1907 and it held its first Mass on Jan. 1, 1908. It was named after Father Jean Baptiste Morin, who led several Francophone families to the Morinville area from Quebec in 1891.
St. Jean Baptiste church, located near the city of Edmonton, was devoured by flames and the steeple fell over.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) responded to the fire around 3:20 a.m., and evacuated nearby homes and buildings.
In the last week, four other Catholic churches located on Indigenous land in British Columbia were completely burned.
Sacred Heart Church and St. George’s Church were set fire to and burned to the ground on June 21, on Canada’s National Indigenous People’s Day. Then two churches located in Similkameen Valley, St. Ann’s Catholic Church and Chopaka Catholic Church were both set fire on June 26, 2021.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney released a statement on Wednesday, it said, that this “appears to be another violent hate crime targeting the Catholic community.”
“This is unacceptable in Alberta. It is unacceptable in Canada,” Kenney continued. “These attacks targeting Christian churches are attempts to destroy the spiritual sites that are important to people of faith across Alberta, including many Indigenous people.”