Around 100 Christian churches in Canada have fallen victim to a series of deliberate attacks, purportedly in response to a debunked claim that 200 indigenous children were buried beneath Catholic schools.
In 2021, an indigenous group in Saskatchewan alleged the discovery of 751 unmarked graves under the Marieval Indian Residential School, following earlier reports of 215 children found under a different school in British Columbia—both schools, predominantly Catholic-run, aimed to eradicate an Indigenous culture, seeking assimilation into Canadian society.
Despite excavations revealing no evidence of bodies, at least 96 churches have been subjected to arson, vandalism, and destruction, seemingly in retaliation. The false claims trace back to the 19th-20th centuries when indigenous children were forcibly placed in ‘residential’ boarding schools across Canada, enduring abuse and disappearance. Recent searches, driven by ground-penetrating radar, failed to substantiate claims of mass graves, leading to speculation that social media played a role in exaggerating the situation.
As outrage escalated, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the pain felt by indigenous communities, attributing it to Canada’s responsibility. Subsequently, nearly 100 churches faced arson or vandalism, with law enforcement attributing only two of 33 church fires to accidents. The attacks, spanning hundreds of miles, disproportionately affected First Nation territories, where churches were originally built on Native American land.
Amidst ongoing divisions stemming from historical grievances, Catholic churches, possibly targeted due to their history of child abuse, bore the brunt of the attacks. Rebel News reporter Drea Humphrey documented 96 incidents from the northern tip of the nation to the Atlantic islands. While claims of mass genocide were deemed exaggerated, speculation arose regarding unmarked graves resulting from the refusal of local governments to fund indigenous funerals in the past.
The fury at Canada’s history intensified, with reported arson attacks on churches continuing, often met with condemnation from indigenous leaders. Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band expressed resentment towards the forced assimilation imposed by the church, even as he condemned the arson. The ongoing church burnings and vandalism, fueled by a complex historical backdrop, underline the need for a balanced and evidence-based understanding of the past to prevent further unwarranted violence.