A Canadian Jewish organization on Tuesday issued a statement of condemnation after a series of churches in the province of British Columbia were torched in what is believed to be in reaction to the confirmation of more than a thousand unmarked graves at several former residential school sites.
The most recent such incident occurred in the Whalley neighborhood in Surrey early Monday morning.
The St. George Coptic Orthodox Church was completely destroyed after flames broke out around 3:30 a.m., according to Vancouver radio station News 1130.
Surrey RCMP confirmed Monday that they are treating the fire as suspicious and are investigating if the fire is related to an arson incident that happened a week earlier.
On July 14, RCMP said a female suspect lit items on fire in front of the door to the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, and then left the area. She was captured on surveillance video just after 2:30 a.m. and police have not yet found this person.
RCMP released a photo of the woman and are appealing for any information.
“It is important to note, that although both of these incidents are suspicious, there is currently no evidence linking these two separate investigations,” Surrey RCMP said in a news release.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) condemned the arson attacks, saying, “Deeply troubling. Another church destroyed by a suspicious fire. We were angered and deeply saddened to learn about the destruction of the St. George Coptic orthodox church in Surrey, BC”
“Five other churches in BC have been targeted. We condemn these acts of violence, we stand in solidarity with those impacted, and we note that Indigenous leaders have roundly rejected these attacks stating they do nothing to help Canada's first peoples,” added CIJA.