According to a report by the True North Centre for Public Policy, at least 45 churches have been vandalized across Canada in recent weeks, with at least 17 of them being arson attacks resulting in several churches being completely destroyed.
Many of the churches were located on Indian land, and some were still being used by members of the bands. Several Indigenous leaders have publicly condemned the attacks. READ: Politicians, Indigenous leaders say burning churches not the way to get justice
It is believed that much of the vandalism was sparked by the recent discovery of over 1,000 unmarked graves at Indian Residential Schools across Canada operated by the Roman Catholic Church.
However, a few of the churches that were vandalized and/or set on fire had not been involved in the Indian Residential program, including two protestant churches in Calgary, one for African refugees and the second for refugees from Vietnam.
Because of this, some suspect that those with an anti-Christian bias are taking advantage of the Residential scandal to target churches.
Though there is clear evidence that some Residential schools were oppressively mismanaged, that resulted in the physical and sexual abuse of the children, most of the responsibility for the program lies with Canada’s federal government that set up and paid for the program as part of its plan to assimilate the Indian population into the dominant European culture.
The government approached several Christian denominations to run the schools, with the Roman Catholic Church running most of them. The program was started in 1876 and approximately 150,000 Indian children were put through the 130 schools until the last school closed in 1996.
However, during the early years, the program was severely underfunded and resulted in the schools not receiving enough money to properly feed and look after their students.
This resulted in the students being susceptible to TB and the Spanish flu that ran rampant through the schools.
When the federal government refused to send the dead students back to their parents because of costs, the schools were forced to set up cemeteries on their grounds.
And when the federal government refused to pay for stone markers for the graves again citing costs, the schools used wooden crosses, that eventually deteriorated over time.
Then, when the federal government began closing down the schools, it refused to maintain the cemeteries after the schools were shut down. This despite letters from departing school principals asking who would be responsible for the cemeteries after the school was closed.
READ: Nonprofit finds at least 45 Canadian churches have been burned or vandalized in recent weeks AND UPDATE: A map of the 45 churches that have been vandalized or burned since the residential schools announcement