Feds quash debate into widespread church arsons, vandalism

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen received no condemnation from the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee for the 83 churches targeted by arson and vandalism since 2021.

Feds quash debate into widespread church arsons, vandalism
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson, and Facebook/ Jagmeet Singh
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The federal government struck down a motion Tuesday that would have condemned over 80 church arsons in Canada since 2021.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen desired swift condemnation from the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee in a call for justice but received none. He urged the committee to "condemn the arson attacks of over 80 churches across Canada [...] and reaffirm freedom of religion and assembly."

The motion also called on those responsible for these attacks to be "brought to justice."

Instead of adopting the motion, Liberal MP Jaime Battiste and six other MPs on the committee successfully adjourned the motion. "What has happened over the past few years with reconciliation and with churches and with the Pope coming to apologize, there’s a deep need for reflection and reconciliation, but I really want to get to the end of this study," he said.

"I would like to call to adjourn debate on this if that’s what we can do [...] because it does have a way of triggering a lot of people who went through residential schools and the things they are going through," added Battiste.

In a map compiled by True North, 83 churches fell to acts of arson and vandalism since the uncovering of 215 alleged graves near a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. three years ago.

Viersen denounced the committee's "shameful" decision to quash debate and disgrace those impacted by the desecration of churches. 

"Unfortunately, a Liberal MP called for an immediate end to the discussion, supported by the NDP," he wrote in a statement. "This prevented the motion from going forward and communicating the committee’s condolences to hurting communities."

"These losses of church buildings have been devastating to these communities as these churches are places of milestones — weddings, funerals, baptisms," said the MP, including his community of Grouard, where St. Bernard church burned down.

"Community members were gathered there — many from Kapawe’no First Nation — remembered the funerals, the baptisms and the weddings that had taken place in that community,” he continued.

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