The incident follows several weeks of Catholic churches in Canada being vandalized or discovered on fire. At least one incident of vandalism of St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan clearly referenced the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former Catholic-run residential schools for Indigenous children. Vandals spray painted the words “We were children” and made red handprints in paint on the doors on Thursday, June 24.
The number that was written on Holy Ghost church, “1323,” could have cited a June 25 article about the number of bodies that had been found in unmarked graves at the sites of former Canadian residential schools up to that point. However, the exact message remains unclear, and CNA could not confirm that the Denver vandalism was connected to the revelations in Canada.
At the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered on the weekend of May 22 with ground-penetrating radar. It remains unclear when or how the children died.
Vandalism of churches has continued apace in Canada after a June 24 announcement that more than 750 unmarked graves were discovered at the site of a former residential school on Cowessess First Nation land in Saskatchewan. Leaders emphasized that the discovery was of unmarked graves, and not a “mass grave site.”
On June 21, two Catholic churches on tribal lands in British Columbia burned down, and on June 26, two more Catholic churches on tribal lands burned down; police called the fires “suspicious.” On June 28, another Catholic church on tribal land in Alberta was discovered on fire; according to a preliminary investigation by police, that fire was believed to be deliberately set, the CBC reported.
On June 24 in Mississauga, Ontario, a church was spray painted with anti-Catholic rhetoric. The graffiti was removed shortly after it was discovered.