Members of St. George’s Coptic Canadian Church shocked by senseless destruction

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A priest celebrating mass holds a cross. (Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)

Members of St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Columbia, were shocked to discover that the church had been burnt to the ground on Monday morning, the latest in a wave of church fires and of vandalism across Canada in recent weeks.

“It was an extremely tragic event and difficult to grasp and understand,” said Steven Faltas, member of the St. George board of directors. National review. “Somewhere between 300 and 400 families attended this church on a fairly regular basis, with services and activities almost daily. So not being there overnight was extremely difficult for us to manage and absorb. “

Several churches have burned to the ground in Canada in recent weeks, with additional churches and a statue of Saint John Paul vandalized. The incidents spanned from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

The fires and vandalism began after First Nations tribes discovered anonymous graves on the sites of former Indian residential schools. These schools were established in the 1830s to assimilate Aboriginal children into Canadian society, and some continued to operate until the 1990s.

A 2015 government commission found the residential school system to constitute “cultural genocide,” and former students have detailed allegations of sexual and physical abuse in schools. Over 1,000 anonymous graves have been discovered by various tribes in recent months.

The majority of schools were run by the Catholic Church in Canada. Most of the churches that have burnt down since the discovery of anonymous graves were Catholic, such as the century-old Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Morinville, Alberta.

However, the fire at St. George’s Coptic Church is unusual in that the church has no connection with the residential school program.

“The Coptic Orthodox Church. . . has no affiliation with the residential school program, ”Faltas said. “The Coptic Church in Vancouver is about 30 years old, so according to the timeline I’m aware of, it’s several years after the residential school program ended.

The circumstances surrounding the fire remain obscure. An unidentified white woman set a wreath on fire on the church door on July 14, in footage captured by a surveillance camera. The fact that the church burned down a few days later raised suspicions of arson: “It is hard not to think that these two bodies have things in common,” commented Faltas.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey did not respond to National review request for comments in time for publication. The RCMP have already called the fires in St. George and other churches “suspect.”

“The RCMP is tracking / investigating these crimes where we are the competent police,” said RCMP spokesperson Robin Percival. Daily call Tuesday.

“We ask for help from all levels of government, knowing that we have been innocent witnesses to a political mess in which we were not involved,” said Faltas.

Faltas added that Surrey’s Coptic community would regroup after the fire.

“As believers, we rely on our scriptures and the word of God to remind us of the promises He has made,” Faltas said. “And although today might be a day of mourning, tomorrow will be a day of joy.”

Tip the press team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a journalist for National review online. He is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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