From The Vancouver Sun: 

Two Catholic churches on Indigenous land in the southern Okanagan were destroyed by fire early Monday, as shock waves continue from the discovery of 215 unidentified graves near the old Kamloops Indian Residential School.

According to Penticton South Okanagan RCMP spokesman Sgt. Jason Bayda, an officer on patrol spotted fire coming from the Sacred Heart Church on Penticton Indian Band land at around 1:20 a.m.

Penticton Fire and Rescue were called and arrived to find the church fully engulfed in flames.

Bayda said that less than two hours later — at 3:10 a.m. — Oliver RCMP and the Oliver Fire Department were notified that St. Gregory’s Church on Osoyoos Indian Band land was ablaze.

Oliver is a 40-minute drive south of Penticton on Highway 97.

“Both churches burned to the ground and police are treating the fires as suspicious,” Bayda said.

The wooden churches were each at least 100 years old and are the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson.

“Investigators have and continue to liaise with both the Penticton and Osoyoos Indian bands as we investigate these fires,” Bayda said.

“Should our investigations deem these fires as arson, the RCMP will be looking at all possible motives and allow the facts and evidence to direct our investigative action. We are sensitive to the recent events, but won’t speculate on a motive.”

Bayda was referring to the discovery of the remains of the 215 kids found late last month. This discovery has sparked outrage directed toward the Catholic Church that operated the majority of B.C.’s 28 residential schools, and the federal government that created the policy and funded the institutions, where children were systematically degraded and abused.

June 21 was National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

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