Corbella: Burning of churches is a crime and should be condemned by all leaders
There have been so many acts of arson and vandalism against churches in Canada over the last couple of weeks that it’s difficult to keep track. The latest of at least 12 church fires in Canada took place in Calgary at about 7:20 p.m. on Sunday. Dozens of other churches have been vandalized with red paint. Just hours after holding their first in-person service in many months, the House of Prayer Alliance Church — which houses a Vietnamese congregation and a Filipino congregation — was targeted by suspected arsonists. That the Alliance church has never had anything to do with Indian Residential Schools doesn’t seem to matter.
© Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton Gregory Bittman, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson, B.C., calls for patience amid waves of arson and vandalism on churches following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves around former residential schools in B.C. and Sasketchewan.
A Roman Catholic bishop based in B.C.'s West Kootenay region is urging Canadians not to jump to conclusions about unmarked graves near former residential schools for Indigenous children in the wake of arson and vandalism against churches across the province.
Bishop Gregory Bittman of the Diocese of Nelson — who oversees Roman Catholic churches across the Kootenays and the Okanagan region — made the plea a week after 182 unmarked grave sites were discovered in the vicinity of a former residential school near Cranbrook, B.C.
‘Not the way to go’: Trudeau condemns recent fires at Catholic churches
Half a dozen churches have been torched in the last two weeks, prompting national leaders to condemn violent acts as efforts continue to uncover gravesites at residential schools.Trudeau's comments come after various investigations into what police forces have described as "suspicious" fires -- some believed to be arson -- at several community churches in recent weeks, both Catholic and Anglican.
On the same day the Ktunaxa First Nation announced the discovery of graves on June 30, the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate in Nelson, B.C., was vandalized with orange paint on its exterior.
Bittman says those buried in the unmarked graves may also include staff members of the schools — and he asks people to patiently wait for results of the grave site analysis.
"It's coming out quite clear now tuberculosis, for example, was rampant around that time, and we know that there was overcrowding in the school. We know that they were poor, they didn't have proper food, the buildings were not up to snuff … all these kinds of things could have contributed to the deaths of the children or even the people that were there.
"My understanding is that it could even be staff members that worked at the school that could be buried there. It could be Indigenous people that lived around the community [and] who lived around the area that might be buried there.
Calls for Roman Catholics to boycott Sunday mass spread beyond Saskatchewan
First Nations leaders in Canada are calling on the Catholic Church pay the full $25 million promised to residential school survivors in 2005 as part of a settlement. So far, just $4 million has been raised by the church.Miller, a member of Shoal Lake Cree Nation, said he's saddened by the recent discoveries of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at residential school sites in Kamloops, B.C., Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and elsewhere.
"Let's wait and see and then deal with whatever we need to deal with, but not jump to conclusions and wild speculations about what's there and what has happened to them," the bishop said on Wednesday.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says Bittman's remarks are "offensive" and "misleading" because they minimize the ongoing discovery of unmarked graves. © Ben Nelms/CBC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says Bishop Gregory Bittman's remarks minimize the horror of human rights violations on former residential school children.
"We know that they [the residential school children] were malnourished. We know that there were no quarantine protocols in place to protect and safeguard them from tuberculosis," Phillip said Friday.
"That somehow we need to wait for further evidence that there was something untoward in regard to these unmarked graves…I find [this] to be totally offensive and disregarding the horror of what this represents in terms of the complete violation and brutal denial of [children's] fundamental human rights to be properly taken care of."
Regina archbishop attends Cote First Nation gathering of residential school survivors
The survivors shared painful, graphic stories of their time at the St. Philip's Indian Residential School in Kamsack, Sask.Survivors at the Cote First Nation told Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen he was brave for making the effort, but told him talk is useless without action.
B.C. has witnessed a series of attacks on churches after the remains of at least 215 children were detected in unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school for Indigenous children in Kamloops.
On June 21, two Catholic churches were burned down in South Okanagan. On June 26, two Catholic churches in the Similkameen region were destroyed by fire, two days after 751 unmarked graves were said to have been found at a cemetery near a former residential school in the Cowessess First Nation of Saskatchewan.
Two Anglican churches — one in Hazelton in northern B.C., and the other in Tofino on Vancouver Island — were set ablaze late last week.
Bittman asks arsonists to stop because their actions are hurting people, including Indigenous Catholics.
"We're all moral human beings, we have emotions, but it's to do something constructive with the emotions, not destructive," he said. "It [the arson] just reinforces and continues the anger … it's not going to solve the issues."
Earlier this week, a group of residential school survivors called for an end to arson attacks on churches.
Rupa Subramanya: Church fires show the left's disgusting propensity to turn a blind eye to violence
After the burning and vandalism of a spate of mostly Roman Catholic churches in recent weeks, one would think that a leader who professes to be progressive and supports freedom of religion would have denounced these criminal acts in no uncertain terms. At a press conference last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to condemn the attacks, but then added this caveat: “It’s real and it is fully understandable given the shameful history we are all becom(ing) more aware of.” © Provided by National Post A Catholic church in Morinville, Alta., burns to the ground on June 30, in what police have deemed a suspicious fire.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attacks on churches: "It is a shame and indeed it is something that will prevent people who will seek solace in times of grief from being able to visit their own places of worship when they've been vandalized or burned."
Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie says he wants to see a criminal investigation into the Catholic church's involvement in residential schools.
"There's going to be more remains found at all these residential schools, and that calls for action.
"It's always been well documented the abuses that were done and the sexual side of things. I call it rape because that's what it was — many of these priests and nuns actually raped Native children, and yet none of them have ever been charged.
"Phony apologies are just that, they're just phony … and they need action, not just sympathy or apologies or prayers," Louie said Friday to Dominika Lirette, the guest host of CBC's Daybreak South. © CBC Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie says he wants to see criminal investigation on the Catholic church's involvement in residential schools.
Bittman says churches in his diocese have hired security guards and installed surveillance cameras to prevent arson.
"We're asking people to be vigilant, just to keep an eye out around the churches," he said.
John Ivison: Justin Trudeau seems so unstoppable, some of his own MPs worry he'll win a majority .
Justin Trudeau is probably feeling unwell right about now. The prime minister got his second dose of vaccine on Friday and the pharmacist warned him the side effects are likely to be worse than the slight chills and fever he had after his first dose. “I know,” he said. “Sophie got hers yesterday. She had a bit of a tough night sleep.” If the vaccine hangover reminds Trudeau he is mortal, he can take consolation in the statistics he reeled off to reporters later in the day: Canada is a world-leader in vaccination rates, with 80 per cent of admissible citizens having received a first dose and 35 per cent fully vaccinated.