Calgary police are investigating after 11 city churches were targets of vandalism overnight, police said.
The vandalism comes just days after a Morinville, Alta. church – St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church – was burned to the ground.
Between late on June 30 and the early morning hours of July 1, orange and red paint was applied to the outside of the churches. One window was smashed and the paint was tossed inside, police said.
Handprints, and the number 215 and other markings were on the churches, suggesting it was in response to the unmarked graves at Canadian residential schools.
The Calgary police have begun reaching out to Calgary churches that could be most at risk for vandalism. They hope to be able to reach most Calgary churches, but recognize those most vulnerable are Calgary Catholic churches.
They are also stepping up patrols around Calgary’s churches.
Acknowledging residential school connection
The Calgary police spoke to the connection with residential schools. They also said the acts are still illegal.
“Canada’s residential school system is a very dark part of our history that destroyed the lives of countless Indigenous families, communities and people,” read a Calgary police media release.
“Given the harm this chapter of our history has caused to Indigenous people in our community, it is understandable that emotions and tensions are running high. We must never forget that residential schools are part of our legacy as a country and we need to continue seeking the truth about what happened.”
Police said, however, that vandalism like this is not just illegal, but it further divides communities that must come together to move forward.
Calgary police investigators are examining evidence found at the scenes and looking for any CCTV footage from the area. The hate crimes unit is involved because the affected locations are all a part of the Christian church.
Anyone with information is asked to call 403-266-1234.
If you are struggling to process the emotions around any of the recent events, it is perfectly normal to need some help and support. Here are some agencies who can help:
- CPS Victim Assistance Response Team: 403-428-8398
- Distress Centre Calgary (24/7): 403-266-HELP (4357)
- Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society (Crisis Line): 403-531-1976
- 211 Alberta: Dial 211