Penticton Indian Band Releases Statement on Sacred Heart Church Fire
Statement from the Penticton Indian Band in response to the fire that destroyed Sacred Heart Church:
The Penticton Indian Band Leadership and community were shocked to discover our church was destroyed in a fire early this morning. We, along with the Osoyoos Indian Band, who also lost their church (Oliver area) are in disbelief and anger over these occurrences as these places of worship provided service to Members who sought comfort and solace in the church.
It is not our place to say who to worship and what historical relevance it has to our people, we are all free to choose and it is our place as a community to support that freedom.
Since 1911 some of our community’s first memories are of us gathering in that church. We understand the grief and rage felt by our people across the country after the discovery of unmarked graves at Government / Catholic run former residential schools. This is a symptom of the intergenerational trauma our survivors and descendants are experiencing, however we have supports to help deal with these emotions in a more healing way.
We cannot speculate that the person(s) responsible had any connection to the Indigenous communities in our region, all we can do is to be there for one another in this unbelievably hard time.
There is security footage from the area being provided to the RCMP to assist with the investigation and the Penticton Indian Band will cooperate fully.
As the site is unsafe, we ask the public to stay away from the immediate area.
Please do not approach our Indigenous Members and ask how we feel about it. This is a fresh wound that needs time to heal and contextualize our feelings as we will support the investigative efforts.