St. Ann’s Catholic Church was a small church built to serve a small town, but that humble building was a mighty testament to the people who built and nourished it.
The people of Chuchuwayha Indian Reserve Number Two traveled more than 40 miles, each way, by horse and wagon, to pick up the lumber they used to build their small church, by hand, outside the town of Hedley, British Columbia. That church stood for more than a century, providing spiritual nourishment to its small congregation at the far-flung edge of the world.
But now, St. Ann’s is gone. On June 26, it burned until nothing was left but a smoldering pile of ash. It wasn’t lightning or a tragic accident. It was arson — and it wasn’t an isolated incident.
All over Canada, churches are going up in flames. On the same day 25 miles south, Our Lady of Lourdes parish was burned to the ground as well. The week before that, St. Gregory’s Church near Osoyoos was destroyed. So was Sacred Heart near Penticton.
All three were also more than a century old, historic, beautiful houses of worship, destroyed in a day out of hatred. Sacred Heart parishioners gathered to watch their doomed church burn. When the church bell finally fell to the ground with a single gong, some of them sobbed.
St. Jean Baptiste in Morinville, Alberta was burned to the ground. Another arson. At Holy Rosary church in Edmonton, a statue of St. John Paul II was vandalized with red paint.
All these are Catholic, but they aren’t the only ones being targeted. In Calgary, 10 churches of various denominations were vandalized in a single night. A few days later, a Vietnamese church was set on fire — just hours after it held its first full service in more than a year.
Overall more than two dozen churches in Canada have been targeted over the past few weeks — and people are cheering it on. Not just anonymous people, either: On June 30, Harsha Walia, the executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, responded to a
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