Church Building Set Ablaze in Calgary and 11 Churches Vandalized Since This Discovery
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Calgary authorities said a church building was intentionally set on fire Sunday evening in southeast Calgary.
CBC News reports emergency crews responded after multiple calls came in about the building owned by the House of Prayer Alliance Church.
The church has a congregation of about 230 people, primarily made up of Vietnamese refugees.
Battalion Chief Keith Stahl told the network the fire was mostly confined to the outside of the building, but the interior did have heavy smoke damage.
The church's pastor, Thai Nguyen, told CBC News on Monday the fire has given him cause to worry.
"I don't know who did that. I don't know what happened," Nguyen said.
"I feel sad. I'm not very happy because, you know, we are … from Vietnam, refugees. We come here looking for a new life, with a new church here. We think that we are in a good country… but I think that we have to be more careful," he added.
The congregation is unable to meet in the building due to the fire damage, according to a Facebook post from Pastor Dulce Bong.
Police said the investigation was still ongoing, but they believe the fire was not accidental. There are no suspects at this time.
Meanwhile, several church fires have been reported across Canada after the recent discoveries of unmarked graves on the sites of former boarding schools for Indigenous children, many of which were run by churches. The remains of nearly 1,000 bodies have been found so far, most of them Indigenous children.
The schools weren't just in Canada. The American Magazine, a Jesuit journal, reports by 1926 there were 357 schools in 30 states with more than 60,000 children. Catholic religious orders in the United States administered 84 of the schools. Jesuits managed four of them.
Since Catholic orders carried out similar missions in the U.S., and U.S. funding was even given to them, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has now ordered an investigation into the history of these schools and a search for graves of children who may have perished at them.
With the process already underway in Canada, at least 11 churches in Calgary have been vandalized after the discovery of the graves there.
The House of Prayer Alliance Church, comprised of many Vietnamese refugees, is not affiliated with the Catholic Church and is not connected to the indigenous boarding school scandal.
The Calgary Fire Department is asking anyone with information, photos, or video of the fire, to email email@example.com.
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