Our Lady of Lourdes Chopaka Catholic Church on Lower Similkameen Indian Band land burned down on Saturday, in a fire being treated as suspicious.
Keremeos RCMP received a call at 4:45 a.m. on June 26 that Our Lady of Lourdes was on fire.
Just before that, at 3:52 a.m, Princeton RCMP received a call reporting a fire at nearby St. Anne's Catholic Church on Upper Similkameen Indian Band land.
Both churches were destroyed.
The LSIB published a press release addressing the fires, stating in part:
The Lower Similkameen Indian Band (Chief and Council) and community are shocked to discover that the Chopaka Church was destroyed in early morning fire. We along with the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, who also lost their Church this morning (Hedley B.C.) are in disbelief and angered over these serious occurrences, as these churches represent place of worship for community members as well as gathering spaces for many for various celebrations and times of loss. It will be felt deeply for those that sought comfort and solace in the Church.
...While we cannot speculate that the person(s) responsible had any connections to our Communities of Upper and Lower Similkameen, all we can do now is be there to support others during this time of loss in community and the loss of our historical landmarks. The Lower Similkameen Indian Band will fully cooperate as the investigation unfolds. Chief Keith says, “I'm very upset about the burning of all these churches. I sent my sympathies out to all my members who have been affected by these fires and I hope the investigation warrants an arrest.”
“It's going to be under investigation. It's too much of a coincidence that they both happened at night,” Chief Keith Crow told https://infotel.ca/newsitem/two-churches-destroyed-by-fire-on-similkameen-band-lands/it83961.
The Lower Similkameen Indian Band or Lower Smelqmix, is a First Nations band government in British Columbia. The head offices of LSIB are located in Cawston.