New Democratic Party (NDP) member of the Ontario provincial parliament Dr Rima Berns-McGown took to Twitter to express “solidarity” with British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) executive director Harsha Walia, whose comments on church burnings came under fire in recent days.
“Standing in solidarity with Harsha Walia, @HarshaWalia. She is smart, principled, thoughtful, fierce in the best way,” Berns-McGown, who describes herself as a “Biracial Jewish Muslim”, wrote on Tuesday.
Standing in solidarity with Harsha Walia, @HarshaWalia. She is smart, principled, thoughtful, fierce in the best way
You know you’re effective when ppl who support inequity & the old racist colonial ways come at you
Change is gonna come regardless, & Harsha is a true leader
— Dr. Rima Berns-McGown (@beyrima) July 6, 2021
“You know you're effective when ppl who support inequity & the old racist colonial ways come at you. Change is gonna come regardless, & Harsha is a true leader,” she added.
The comments come days after Bahrain-born South Asian Harsha Walia commented on a Vice report on two Roman Catholic churches being burned down with the comment: “Burn it all down.”
Berns-McGown is not the first person to come to the defence of Walia. Lawyer Naomi Sayers commented that she would “help [Walia] burn it all down… And also, I would help defend anyone charged with arson if they actually did burn things.”
“Burn it all down. Doesn't literally mean, burn it down. But just in case, I can also defend, both civil and criminal,” she later clarified.
Canadian Civil Liberties Boss Says ‘Burn It All Down’ as Churches Torched https://t.co/uRfXmClVkZ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 5, 2021
Since the start of June, Canada has seen a wave of vandalism and suspected arson attacks on churches in several provinces.
Among the latest suspected church arsons was a blaze that took place at the House of Prayer Alliance Church in southeast Calgary, Alberta, on Monday. Police have stated that they believe the fire was intentionally set and are investigating the case as arson. No suspects have been identified so far.
The church largely serves members of the Vietnamese community, and according to Pastor Thai Nguyen, many of those who attend services at the church are refugees.
“We are Vietnamese refugees here. So maybe the people who do this don't know,” Mr Nguyen said and added: “If anybody do [sic] this so they should know that we (are) victims too, before we came here to find a new life.”
Ten churches in Alberta were vandalised in a single day as Canada continues to see churches, primarily Roman Catholic, burned to the ground in several provinces over the past month. https://t.co/6gXDVjvroQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 3, 2021
The arson attack comes just days after another church in Alberta that caters to African refugees was vandalised as well.
According to the Western Standard newspaper, at least 23 churches across Canada have been attacked, five of which have been burned to the ground.
The church attacks are believed to be linked to the alleged discovery of unmarked graves linked to the Canadian residential school system, a system of forced assimilation run largely by the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic church.
Earlier this week, survivors of the residential school system called for an end to attacks on churches, with survivor Jessie Malcolm stating: “It's not going to bring back anybody.”
“Burning down churches is not in solidarity with us Indigenous people,” Jenn Allan-Riley, a daughter of a residential school survivor, said and added: “Whoever is doing this, you're going to wake up a very ugly, evil spirit in this country.”