Shoes are placed outside St. Francis Xavier Mission Church in Kahnawake, Que., in memory of residential school victims. The church was vandalized earlier this month. Photo from Facebook/Carina Deere

Vandals continue to target churches across Canada

  • August 11, 2021

While the rash of arsons and acts of vandalism perpetrated on churches across Canada has lightened considerably compared to the volume of incidents that occurred between late June and mid-July, it’s not gone away.

Police in Brandon, Man., are investigating the Aug. 3 arson of a decoration featured in an “Every Child Matters” monument outside of St. Augustine of Canterbury Church built to express solidarity and compassion for deceased Indigenous residential school children.

Police responded to a call from a security company associated with the parish at around 3 a.m. on Aug. 3.

Sgt. Kirby Sarasas told The Brandon Sun the fire is suspicious.

“It is believed to have been intentionally done and the motive behind why it was intentionally done is unclear,” she said. “In light of current events in Canada and just the nature of what’s been happening, it prompted us to open up an investigation into the burning of this particular item at a church.”

Vandals twice targeted St. Francis Xavier Mission Church in Kahnawake, Que. Office staff politely refused to grant The Catholic Register an interview about the parish window being smashed and the exterior being defiled with graffiti.

The local Kahnawake Peacekeepers apprehended two youth in connection with the graffiti incident.

“At 2:23 this morning (July 28), we got a call that the church was being spray-painted by two youths,” said Peacekeeper spokesperson Kyle Zachary.

The youth were caught in the act and released to their parents. No charges have yet been filed.

Some of the sentiments depicted in the graffiti are easy to read. These include “colonizer,” “those were kids,” “f-word” epithets, the number 215 to signify the initial discovery in Kamloops, B.C., of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school and the number 666 multiple times.

Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Ross Montour expressed disgust over the incident when he arrived at the building on July 28.

“It’s not about this building. This building is part of the history of this community,” he told The Eastern Door newspaper.

“They’re doing harm to their own people.”

The B.C. Catholic has reported that police departments across the province are stepping up patrols around churches as a safeguard against future incidents

According to the Vancouver Police Department, “churches have been targets of 13 incidents including broken windows, spray paint and threats of arson in less than two months.”

“All our neighbourhood police officers are speaking with churches in their area of patrol to either spread awareness/education or to increase police presence,” Const. Tania Visintin of the Vancouver Police Department told The B.C. Catholic’s Agnieszka Ruck.

“They are going over security measures they can take to hopefully either prevent crimes or assist with investigations in the future (i.e. better lighting, installing security cameras).”

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