Indigenous leaders called for an immediate halt to arson attacks on Catholic churches. Jane Allan Riley, the daughter of a former Aboriginal boarding school student, said the church fires “further deepened the divide between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous”. Burning churches is “not aboriginal style”.
As recently as this week, a church in Calgary and one in Ontario caught fire. Five Catholic churches have been completely burned down since June. In total, authorities have reported about a dozen deliberate attacks on churches so far.
The attacks began shortly after the discovery of several unmarked grave fields, where specialists 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 Aboriginal children. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, more than 150,000 children of Aboriginal mothers were placed – often by force – in Canadian homes. Many of the more than 130 institutions nationwide were run by Catholic religious orders. They should introduce the children to “Christian civilization” on behalf of the state.
Other Aboriginal communities had previously commented on arson attacks. The advice of the lower Semelkamin Indian division shocked with destruction. In a letter, she said the backlash was partly understandable because their grandchildren had experienced “cross-generational trauma”. However, this path does not lead to reconciliation. (KNA)