A few weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in a former Catholic boarding school for indigenous children in Kamloops, Canada, two Catholic churches nearby were again destroyed by fire. The Canadian federal police said that both St. Ann’s Church in the Upper Similkameen indigenous area and the Chopaka Church in the Lower Similkameen area caught fire within an hour early on Saturday morning.
“Both churches were destroyed,” said a police report, which classified the fires as “suspicious”. It will be checked whether there is a connection to the church fires in the cities of Penticton and Oliver, about 50 kilometers away, a week ago. The investigations into the fires in Penticton and Oliver are still ongoing.
Dark chapter in Canada’s history
A few weeks ago, the remains of 215 secretly buried children were discovered on the site of a former Catholic children’s home in Kamloops in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. The find had caused a shock across the country. In Canada, by 1874, around 150,000 native and mixed couple children had been separated from their families and their culture and placed in church homes in order to force them to adapt to the white majority society. Many of them were ill-treated or sexually abused in the homes. According to previous information, at least 3200 of these children died, most of them from tuberculosis.
This week, a second site became known: On the site of another former boarding school for indigenous children, search parties came across 751 graves. The plant is located in the city of Regina in central Canada and was in operation from 1899 to 1997. The Cowessess people did not take over the facility from the Catholic Church until the 1980s.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Friday for the “harmful” policy of forced assimilation, acknowledged the responsibility of the Canadian government – and also called on Pope Francis to apologize.