Statue in entrance of the Polish Catholic Church in Edmonton devastated with pink paint
A statue in front of a church in north Edmonton was destroyed on Saturday evening.
The statue of Pope John Paul II in front of the Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary at 11485 106 Edmonton was covered in red paint and red handprints.
Red footprints could be seen around the statue and on the steps leading to the main entrance to the church. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals were placed at the foot of the statue.
The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said the incident happened around 11:10 p.m. Saturday night when a woman was seen destroying the statue with paint.
EPS says the hate crime and violent extremism division has been briefed on the incident, but the investigation will remain with the Northwest division until the hate crime division has had time to properly assess the incident.
Police said no further details were released from them while the investigation continues.
“WE ARE SORRY ABOUT VANDALISM”
In an interview with CTV News Edmonton, Andrzej Makarewich of the Canadian Polish Congress Alberta Society said the church was shocked to see the statue of Saint John Paul II destroyed.
“We looked at cameras and security cameras and found that a young woman came here at 11:10 pm and spent about 10 minutes damaging our memorial,” Makarewich said.
He described the incident as a “stab” in the heart of the Polish community.
“Someone who has done this knows how to harm our community because John Paul II is a saint,” he added.
Makarewich said security footage shows cars driving past the church when the statue was destroyed.
“There were at least two cars that saw this incident and did nothing,” he said. “This is not the Edmonton that I know.”
CTV News Edmonton did not see the security footage.
“We are saddened by the vandalism of the statue of Saint John Paul II in the parish of Holy Rosary,” said Archbishop Richard Smith of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton in a statement.
“At a time when our country is very much aware of the need for reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of this country, it is helpful to remember the words that Pope John Paul II used during his visit to Fort Simpson in 1987 Inherent goodness. “of indigenous culture and traditions and expressed their solidarity with the First Nations, Metis and Innu to defend their rights:” My coming among you looks back on your past to proclaim your dignity and yours To support fate. “
Smith added that he repeated these words.
“The Church extols the equal human dignity of all peoples and defends their right to preserve their own cultural character with their own traditions and customs,” said the Archbishop.
“The parishioners of Holy Rosary parish and the people of the Archdiocese of Edmonton are deeply saddened by the indigenous peoples at this moment. With them we lament the sad legacy of boarding schools and look forward to the healing of our relationships. “
Pope John Paul II, born in Wadowice, Poland, was the first non-Italian Pope since the 16th century and the second longest incumbent head of the Catholic Church in modern history. He visited Canada three times.
The Holy Rosary Church, a Polish and English congregation, has priests who are members of the Missionary Wafers of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate operated 48 schools, including the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia and the Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowesss First Nation, Saskatchewan.
Other churches across Canada were destroyed, including St. Paul Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon.
At least four churches in British Columbia on the First Nations reservation were burned to the ground.
The incidents came after the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced it had discovered the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
On Thursday, the Cowesss First Nation announced that it had also found 751 unmarked graves near a former dormitory in Saskatchewan.
The authorities have not released any official evidence that the fires or acts of vandalism are linked to the discoveries at the boarding schools.
Marlene Poitras, regional director of the Alberta First Nations Congregation, said in an interview that the discovery of unmarked graves is not just hurting First Nations communities and that there are more productive ways to move forward.
“It’s really unfortunate,” said Poitras. “We don’t want to lose this (community) support by doing things like that.
“Let’s work together in a good way,” she added. “I think that’s critical right now.”
If you are a former boarder in need or affected by the boarding school system and need assistance, you can contact the Indian Residential Schools 24-hour emergency line at 1-866-925-4419
Additional psychological support and resources for indigenous people are available here.
With files from CTV News Vancouver