Native Christians ‘Heartbroken’ After Historic Anglican Church Burns to the Ground
by JACK MONTGOMERY / 7 Jul 2021
First Nations Christians spoke of being left “heartbroken” after their historic Anglican church burned to the ground amid the ongoing wave of arson attacks and statue-smashing sweeping Canada.
Rosealene Daniels captured video footage of 108-year-old St Paul’s Anglican Church being consumed by fire on Gitwangak First Nations land in British Columbia being consumed by fire. As the fire rages, she can be heard saying: “No matter if this is just a building, it’s something that means to everybody in this village [sic],”.
“When my children seen that they were just so heartbroken, because they have so memories in that church,” she said in comments reported by CBC News: The National.
“Aboriginal or not, I don’t think anger is the way to deal with it, and we need to sit down and think about what we could do,” she added.
The broadcaster reported that Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has said federal funding is available for churches to increase security, but that accessing this financing is a slow, complicated process — and the government has no plans to make it any quicker or easier, despite the arson wave.
Prime Minister Trudeau, who is at least notionally Roman Catholic, has said the attacks on churches are “unacceptable” and “depriving people who are in need of grieving and healing and mourning from places where they can actually grieve and reflect” — but defended the anger fueling the violence as “fully understandable”.
“One of my reflections is I understand the anger that’s out there against the federal government, against institutions like the Catholic Church; it is real and it is fully understandable given the shameful history that we are all becoming more and more aware of, and engaging ourselves to do better as Canadians… [W]e need to… rebuild a path forward that reflects the terrible intergenerational trauma and present-day realities of suffering that we are all collectively responsible for,” he said.
The ongoing unrest has been triggered by the discovery of a number of now-unmarked graves — described as “mass graves” by some media outlets, inaccurately — at the sites of former Indian Residential Schools, which many native children were required to attend in what is now widely regarded as a misguided effort to help them assimilate into wider society.
At least some of the unmarked graves at the schools, which were instituted in the 1800s, used to be marked, with the BBC reporting that “Burial plots used to be marked with wooden crosses that crumbled over the years” at one mission school — although this is seldom reflected in mainstream media coverage of the discoveries.
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