VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNS) — Two more Catholic churches on First Nations land have been destroyed by fire, while fire damaged an Anglican church on First Nations land in northern British Columbia. Police are calling all the blazes “suspicious.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said officers were investigating June 26 fires that destroyed the century-old St. Ann’s Catholic Church on the Hedley Native Reserve of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and Our Lady of Lourdes Church on the Chopaka Native Reserve of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, near Osoyoos.
Also June 26, a fire damaged the century-old St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Gitwangak First Nations land, between Terrace and New Hazelton. The blaze was extinguished before it could destroy the church.
The fires bring to five the number of churches on Indigenous land that have been destroyed or damaged by suspicious blazes within a week.
On June 21, fires reduced to rubble two historic Catholic churches on First Nations lands in the Okanagan area.
Those fires, which police consider suspicious, destroyed Sacred Heart Mission Church on Penticton Indian Band land and St. Gregory Mission Church on Osoyoos Indian Band land.
The latest fires occurred within an hour of each other, with Princeton RCMP receiving a call at 3:52 a.m. about the St. Ann’s fire and Keremeos RCMP being notified of the Chopaka fire at 4:45 a.m.
Police said the Chopaka fire spread to nearby brush but was quickly put out by BC Wildfire crews before it could spread.
Sgt. Jason Bayda of the Penticton South Okanagan RCMP said police are treating both fires as suspicious and “are looking to determine any possible connection to the church fires” June 21.
“The investigations into the previous fires and these two new fires are ongoing with no arrests or charges,” said Bayda.
Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that many in the community were members at the church and were very upset.
“I’m angry,” he told CBC. “I don’t see any positive coming from this, and it’s going to be tough.”
The B.C. Catholic is the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103