‘It’s a criminal act’: Prominent B.C. Interior Indigenous leader condemns church fires

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A outstanding Indigenous leader within the B.C. Southern Interior is condemning the acts of doable arson after 4 Catholic church buildings burnt down on First Nations land in six days.

Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who can be the tribal chair and spokesperson of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, mentioned there is no such thing as a doubt in his thoughts the fires have been deliberately set.

“I wouldn’t call it suspicious, I’d call it what it is, it’s a criminal act, it’s vandalism. It’s arson,” he advised Global News on Sunday.

Read extra:
Grief, sorrow after discovery of 215 our bodies, unmarked graves at former B.C. residential college web site

“Obviously, it’s the same group of people. Why did they do it under the cover of darkness? Because it’s a criminal act and they are criminal.”

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On June 26 at 3:52 a.m., the RCMP obtained a name that the St. Ann’s Catholic Church on the Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB) close to the small neighborhood of Hedley, B.C., was on fireplace.

Less than one hour later, at 4:45 a.m., police have been alerted to a different fireplace on the Chopaka Catholic Church on the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) in Chopaka, roughly 58 kilometers away.

Click to play video: 'Evidence of an accelerant found at church fire scene in South Okanagan.'

Evidence of an accelerant discovered at church fireplace scene in South Okanagan.

Evidence of an accelerant discovered at church fireplace scene in South Okanagan.

The suspicious fires ignited 5 days after Catholic church buildings on the Penticton Indian Band Reserve (PIB) and Osoyoos Indian Band Reserve (OIB) in Oliver have been lowered to rubble.

The Sacred Heart Church on Penticton Indian Band territory burns to the bottom early Monday.

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No arrests have been made or prices laid in any of the 4 fires.

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Louie mentioned there may be grief and sorrow amongst Indigenous peoples following the preliminary findings of 215 kids in unmarked graves at a web site adjoining to the previous Kamloops Residential School and an estimated 751 unmarked graves on the Marieval Indian Residential School, reported by the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.

Read extra:
Saskatchewan residential college survivor reacts to discovery of unmarked graves

However, Louie believes the offender’s anger is probably going misplaced.

“It’s misplaced ignorance, stupidity, an alright criminal act by young people,” he presumed.

Click to play video: 'Church fires on reserve lands'

Church fires on reserve lands

Church fires on reserve lands

Louie mentioned worshippers of all faiths needs to be free to observe their faith the place they select.

“There’s those like me who hate the church with a passion, have nothing to do with the church, but there’s a lot of people, even within my own family, that believe in that religion. People are allowed to worship any which way they want,” he mentioned.

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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, additionally denounced the church fires on Sunday.

“It is not really surprising given the fact that there are more and more discoveries made as we move through this tragic issue in terms of unmarked graves in First Nations communities, where there were residential schools,” Phillip mentioned.

“As time moves forward, there will be further discoveries, the numbers will continue to escalate, and I think we can anticipate more backlash and responses from the Indigenous community at large.”

Read extra:
‘A reckoning’: Canada residential college developments immediate coverage adjustments in U.S.

More Canadian Catholic church buildings have been focused over the weekend.

In Northern B.C., a fireplace broke out on the century-old St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Gitwangak First Nations land, between Terrace and New Hazelton.

The doorways of St. Paul Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon have been lined in paint following the invention of a whole lot of unmarked graves at a former residential college in Saskatchewan.

Credit: Donna Heimbecker

A statue of Pope John Paul II exterior the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in north-central Edmonton was vandalized with pink paint on Sunday, whereas in Saskatchewan, the doorways of a Saskatoon church have been lined in pink painted handprints.

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Click to play video: 'What the Catholic church destroyed by fire meant to Penticton Indian Band'

What the Catholic church destroyed by fireplace meant to Penticton Indian Band

What the Catholic church destroyed by fireplace meant to Penticton Indian Band

Louie inspired peaceable motion as a substitute of unlawful acts of vandalism in response to Canada’s atrocious historical past of church-run and government-sanctioned residential colleges.

“I think it’s time for the public to demand action and shake up their elected leadership,” he mentioned.

Louie additionally participated in a convoy of Syilx leaders, Indian Residential School survivors, their households (intergenerational), elders, members, and youth from throughout the Nation, who journeyed from Penticton to the Kamloops Indian Residential School on Saturday.

Read extra:
‘Of course it’s suspicious’: 2 extra Catholic church buildings burn in B.C.’s Southern Interior

The caravan gathered folks collectively in unity to assist the survivors and one another by way of the emotional impacts of the latest findings.

It additionally introduced consciousness to all these which are simply now discovering their family, in addition to demonstrating our assist for, and alliance with, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

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“To date, the Government of Canada has failed at taking any meaningful action or accountability for these atrocities,” Louie said.

Click to play video: 'Hundreds of unmarked graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school'

Hundreds of unmarked graves discovered at former Saskatchewan residential college

Hundreds of unmarked graves discovered at former Saskatchewan residential college

“At this point, we are demanding local, provincial and federal officials finally step up to the plate, take direct action on finding justice for these children, and begin implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action.”

Louie is looking for a criminal investigation of the findings.

“All those kids in unmarked graves didn’t die of sickness or suicide, evidence would prove that they were killed, they were murdered,” he mentioned.

“Some sort of criminal investigation needs to be done. If there were 20 white kids found in a grave, there would be a criminal investigation.”

Anyone experiencing ache or misery as a results of their residential college expertise can entry the 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419

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