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Though barely mentioned in US media, 48 Christian churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned down in the past two months. The latest occurred Monday, when the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Colombia, was destroyed by fire.
Since mid-June, five B.C. churches were set alight, apparently connected to unmarked graves discovered at former residential school sites. The schools were instituted in 1874 as an effort to assimilate native tribes in language, religion, and culture. First Nations children were removed from their families and often moved great distances into the boarding schools. The program officially ended in 1969.
No evidence has shown if the deaths came from natural causes or intentional abuse but most of the Canadian press has presumed the latter. Since the Catholic Church ran 70 percent of these schools, it has borne most of the current backlash. But it didn’t take long for arsonists and vandals to attack churches far from First Nations reserves and unrelated to Catholicism.