Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 17 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Hildegard of Bingen
home iconNews
line break icon

Suspicious fires at churches in western Canada


Jackan | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 06/29/21 - updated on 06/29/21

Investigations continue, as blazes possibly related to discoveries of unmarked graves at former indigenous schools.

A Catholic church in the Province of Alberta seems to be the latest in a string of attacks on churches in western Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police east of Calgary said that they are investigating a fire that appeared to have been deliberately set Monday at the church, which is on the land of the Siksika indigenous people. 

Elsewhere, the RCMP in New Hazelton in northwestern British Columbia said a fire was reported early Saturday morning on the Gitwangak First Nation land. It was an abandoned Anglican church, and the fire was quickly extinguished with minimal damage and no injuries, the National Post reported. An investigation is underway. 

In southern British Columbia, four Catholic churches — two near Osoyoos and Oliver, one outside Hedley, and the other at Chopaka — were destroyed by blazes between June 21 and June 26.

Catholic churches in Saskatoon and Edmonton were also vandalized with red paint in the past week.

The fires and vandalism come in the wake of discoveries of what’s believed to be the remains of children in unmarked graves at former residential schools in Kamloops, B.C., and in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Many of the residential schools, in a system set up by the Canadian government, were run by Catholic religious orders. Leaders of native peoples in Canada say the schools were used to forcibly assimilate Indigenous people. Some say that children were forced to convert to Christianity and leave behind their native language and culture. There have been calls, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for Pope Francis to make a formal apology. 

On Friday, the Catholic Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which operated 48 residential schools, including the two former schools where unmarked graves of indigenous children were found, said it would release all documents in its possession, the Guardian reported. 

On Tuesday, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that a delegation of Indigenous people will visit Pope Francis in Rome from December 17-20 to “foster meaningful encounters of dialogue and healing.”

“Pope Francis is deeply committed to hearing directly from Indigenous Peoples, expressing his heartfelt closeness, addressing the impact of colonization and the role of the Church in the residential school system, in the hopes of responding to the suffering of Indigenous Peoples and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma, a statement from the Conference said. “The Bishops of Canada are deeply appreciative of the Holy Father’s spirit of openness in generously extending an invitation for personal encounters with each of the three distinct groups of delegates – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – as well as a final audience with all delegates together on 20 December 2021.”

The delegation will include Elders and “Knowledge Keepers,” people who attended residential schools and youth from across the country, accompanied by a small group of Bishops and Indigenous leaders.


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.