Arrests have been made in just nine of the church fires since 2021, the outlet reported, adding that police say no motive has been determined in the attacks.
In May 2023, a historic 121-year-old Catholic church in Northern Alberta burned to the ground, The B.C. Catholic reported.
The archbishop of Grouard-McLennan, Gérard Pettipas, said that St. Bernard’s Church was “irreparably destroyed” and the arson marked “a sad moment for the many people who have fond memories of this church.”
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Catholic Church burned to the ground in August 2022 in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Global News reported. Two men were charged with arson following the fire.
On June 28, 2021, in the province of Alberta, a fire was extinguished in the early morning hours at the Siksika Nation Catholic Church, which police said they believed was set deliberately.
Two other Catholic churches in the same region of British Columbia, Sacred Heart Mission at Penticton Indian Band and St. Gregory Mission at Osoyoos Indian Band, burned down in June 2021.
“For many years, our priests have been welcomed to minister in these mission churches, and it is our hope that this ministry will continue. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the fires and we are grateful that no one died or was physically injured,” Nelson Bishop Gregory Bittman said following those two fires.
While the CBC News report recorded 33 churches that burned to the ground, many more churches have been victimized by attacks.
According to the Canadian website True North, 96 Christian churches in the country have been vandalized, burned, or desecrated since May 2021, when it was first announced mass graves were found at residential schools.
Some Indigenous leaders spoke out against the vandalism and arson early on.
In 2021 a fire destroyed the Sacred Heart Mission at Penticton Indian Band and St. Gregory Mission at Osoyoos Indian Band.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
The Penticton Indian Band said in a statement: “We, along with the Osoyoos Indian Band, who also lost their church (Oliver area) are in disbelief and anger over these occurrences as these places of worship provided service to members who sought comfort and solace in the church.”
The statement said that while it is “not our place to say who to worship,” the Sacred Heart church building played an important role in the community. “Since 1911 some of our community’s first memories are of us gathering in that church,” the statement said.