Two churches burned down in the Canadian province of British Columbia on Saturday. They lay on native land. Police suspect a link to the discovery of the remains of 215 indigenous children in a former boarding school.
In less than an hour, St. Ann’s Church and Chopaka Church in the Canadian province of British Columbia started burning on Saturday. Both churches burned down completely. Police are treating the fires as ‘suspicious’. On Monday, two Catholic churches had already been reduced to ashes. That was just on National Indigenous People’s Day.
The fires come after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves in areas where boarding schools used to be. Those boarding schools were run by religious groups, but they were sponsored by the government. Indigenous children in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were forced to attend these kinds of schools with the aim of ‘assimilating’ them into society.
Searching for graves
After the discovery of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops, Canada a few weeks ago, indigenous communities across the country called for graves at former boarding schools to be searched. Kamloops Catholic School opened in 1890 and closed in 1978. Last Thursday, an indigenous group discovered 751 anonymous graves near a former boarding school in Canada’s Saskatchewan region. This was also a Catholic boarding school.
These types of deaths in compulsory boarding schools would have been largely due to poor health conditions in the schools. The students often lived in poorly constructed, poorly heated and dirty buildings. According to the BBC More than 150,000 indigenous children are said to have been taken from their families between 1863 and 1998 to be placed in such boarding schools across Canada.
Native American leader Keith Crow said on the national channel: CBC to reject the fires. He is said to have received a phone call on Saturday morning informing him that the Chopaka Church was on fire. When he arrived half an hour later, the church had burned down. ‘I don’t see anything positive coming from this. And it’s going to be tough anyway.’
The Canadian government has already officially apologized for this system.