The motion to condemn the numerous church arsons in Canada since 2021 was struck down by the federal government on Tuesday. Conservative MP Arnold Viersen had called for swift condemnation and justice from the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee, but his motion was not adopted. Viersen 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 for those responsible for the attacks to be brought to justice.
However, instead of adopting the motion, Liberal MP Jaime Battiste and six other MPs on the committee successfully adjourned the motion. Battiste explained that there is a need for reflection and reconciliation in light of recent events surrounding churches and residential schools.
According to a map compiled by True North, 83 churches have fallen victim 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 criticized the committee’s decision to quash debate and expressed his disappointment in the lack of condolences to the affected communities.
“These losses of church buildings have been devastating to these communities as these churches are places of milestones — weddings, funerals, baptisms,” said Viersen. He specifically mentioned the community of Grouard, where the 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 added.
The decision to not condemn the church arsons has sparked controversy and has been seen by some as a failure to address the concerns and pain of the affected communities. The motion sought to acknowledge and support those impacted by the desecration of churches, but its rejection by the committee has left many feeling unheard.
The issue of church arsons in Canada remains a sensitive and contentious topic, particularly in light of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves near residential schools. The debate surrounding these incidents highlights the ongoing need for reconciliation and healing in Indigenous communities, as well as broader discussions about religious freedom and the importance of protecting places of worship.
As the motion to condemn the church arsons was adjourned, it is unclear what further action will be taken by the government to address this issue. However, the conversation surrounding these attacks and their implications will likely continue, prompting further reflection and dialogue on the path towards healing and reconciliation in Canada.