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Fire destroys Catholic church north of Edmonton; Nova Scotia church also damaged

Fire at 2 more churches

UPDATE: 8:50 a.m.

Police in Nova Scotia are investigating a fire that damaged the Roman Catholic church in a First Nations community north of Halifax.

The RCMP in Indian Brook, N.S., say the fire at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church was reported this morning at 4:20 a.m. and is considered suspicious.

The church serves the Sipekne'katik First Nation, about 64 kilometres north of the port city.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Marshall says the province's fire marshal has been called in to determine the cause of the fire.

Earlier today, a Catholic church in northern Alberta was destroyed by what RCMP are calling a suspicious fire.

The Mounties say the fire was reported just after 3 a.m. at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, about 40 kilometres north of Edmonton.

Four small Catholic churches on Indigenous lands in southern British Columbia have been destroyed by suspicious fires, and a vacant former Anglican church in northwestern B.C. was recently damaged in what RCMP said could be arson.

The fires happened less than a month after the discovery of what's believed to be the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.

Last week, the Cowessess First Nation in southeastern Saskatchewan announced that ground-penetrating radar detected 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.


ORIGINAL: 7:35 a.m.

A Catholic Church in northern Alberta has been destroyed by what RCMP are calling a suspicious fire.

RCMP say in a release that officers were called to the blaze at St. John Baptiste Parish in Morinville, about 40 kilometres north of Edmonton, just after 3 a.m.

Iain Bushell, Morinville's general manager of infrastructure and community services, confirms the church has been lost.

He says the fire was so fierce that firefighters could not enter the 114-year-old building and the roof collapsed a short time later.

Bushell says the two main steeples and front facade of the church are completely gone.

Bushell, a former firefighter, says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

"Certainly the timing is unfortunate, given that it is a rather iconic Catholic Church in our community and with the timing of sad events that have been uncovered in the country, right now," Bushell said Wednesday in an phone interview from the scene.

Four small Catholic Churches on Indigenous lands in rural southern British Columbia have been destroyed by suspicious fires and a vacant former Anglican church in northwestern B.C. was recently damaged in what RCMP said could be arson.

The fires happened less than a month after the discovery of what's believed to be the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.

The Cowessess First Nation in southeastern Saskatchewan also announced last week that ground-penetrating radar detected 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

Some 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools, which operated for more than 120 years in Canada. More than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.



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