114-Year-Old Catholic Church Destroyed In Fire Following Discovery Of Indigenous Remains
A 114-year-old church has become the latest to set fire in Canada following the discovery of the remains of hundreds of indigenous people.
Firefighters were called to St. Jean Baptiste Parish, located in Morinville, north of Edmonton, at around 3am local time on Wednesday, June 30, with crews still tackling hot spots three hours later.
Fire departments from neighbouring communities were called in to help extinguish the flames, with the church having been left badly damaged as a result of the blaze.
It comes after a number of other churches in Canada have set on fire over recent days after the remains of almost 1000 people were found on the grounds of former residential schools. In the wake of the discovery, protestors have also vandalised a statue of Pope John Paul II with red handprints.
Speaking to CTV News Edmonton, Iain Bushell, the town’s general manager of infrastructure and community services, explained that the fire was ‘fully involved’ from the basement by the time the first firefighters arrived on the scene at St. Jean Baptiste Parish.
They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or exterior fire fight ever since.
It’s one of the largest buildings. It’s very old construction so an awful lot of wood, so it went very quickly and it was a very difficult fire to fight.
Bushell went on to thank crews from Legal, Bon Accord, Gibbons, Sturgeon County, St. Albert and Edmonton for their support and help in tackling the blaze, which was fought by a total of about 50 firefighters working on rotation.
Locals have expressed their sadness over the destruction to the building, which was completed in 1907 and held its first mass on January 1, 1908.
Resident Angela Meyer commented: ‘I don’t think I’ll really be able to believe it’s happened until the smoke’s settled. Like, until it’s all done. It really is. It’s the centre of this community.’
Another Morinville resident, Roger Morin, had married his late wife in the church 42 years ago today, June 30.
After losing his wife to cancer earlier in 2021, Morin said: ‘I’ve had a very important loss in my life already, and this is all part of it. I really don’t know how to feel. I just feel sad. Sad as hell.’
Officials have not confirmed how the fire in Edmonton began, but have described it as suspicious.
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CreditsCTV News Edmonton
CTV News Edmonton