A Catholic church leader says he doesn’t think vandalism at his Port Moody church is related to the discovery of the remains of 215 school children at a Kamloops residential school.
Rev. Mark McGuckin tells Tri-City News the toppling of a granite memorial at St. Joseph’s Parish early Sunday (June 13) was “disturbing” as the gravestone was erected about 15 years ago in dedication to the “pre-born,” and he doesn’t know the vandals’ motivation.
“It is disturbing for people [in the parish] who wish to engage in this ongoing work of healing in a charitable way,” McGuckin said, noting police were called.
It’s believed that two individuals pushed over the grave marker with their legs while on the ground. It’s been partially restored, but the stone on which it was standing has been broken, McGuckin said.
The vandalism was discovered early Sunday as the church was dealing with a power outage caused by a fire that burned down two houses near by.
It's also been reported that St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Parish in Vancouver was hit by vandals on Sunday. Someone had written, “release the records” and “killers” on the front door of the church.
McGuckin said that no such message was directed at his church, so it’s difficult to ascertain the reason behind the vandalism.
“It’s a very difficult time,” he acknowledged.
“I think this could be unrelated… as the other incidents had graffiti and signage and explicit messaging linked to residential school crisis and this was categorically different.”
Calling residential schools the “greatest blemish” in Canadian history, McGuckin said he was personally struck about the news at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and he has been holding special sermons and services.
As for the church memorial, McGuckin said it was meant to be a "peaceful" placement.
“It’s a peaceful message there in honour of the pre-born, we welcome the engagement of dialogue.”