Edmonton police are investigating after a statue outside a local Catholic church was covered in paint — an apparent reference to the discovery of hundreds of…

Jonny Wakefield
Edmonton Police Service Constable Patrick Malis collects evidence on Sunday June 27, 2021 after a statue of Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II outside the Holy Rosary Church in Edmonton was vandalized. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia
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Edmonton police are investigating after a statue outside a local Catholic church was covered in paint an apparent reference to the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
On Sunday morning, congregants at Holy Rosary Catholic Church found a statue of Pope John Paul II covered in red hand prints. Red footprints had been tracked to the front door, while stuffed animals had been placed around the statues base.
John Paul II was the first pope from Poland and the statue outside the largely Polish congregation commemorates his 1984 visit to Edmonton. The church is located at 114 Avenue and 106 Street.
Police say a female suspect was seen vandalizing the statue at around 11 p.m. Saturday evening.
The EPS Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit has been notified of the incident, though the file will remain with the division until HCVEU has had an opportunity to properly assess this situation, spokesman Scott Pattison said in an email.
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In a statement, Archbishop Richard Smith of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton said he was saddened by the vandalism.
At a time when our country is acutely aware of the need for reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of this land, it is helpful to recall the words with which Pope John Paul II, during his 1987 visit to Fort Simpson, strongly affirmed the inherent goodness of Indigenous culture and traditions, and expressed solidarity with the First Nations, Metis and Innu Peoples in defense of their rights: my coming among you looks back to your past in order to proclaim your dignity and support your destiny.
Smith said the Holy Rosary parish and the Archdiocese of Edmonton stand with the Indigenous Peoples in this moment of profound sorrow. With them, we lament the sad legacy of residential schools and look forward to the healing of our relationships.
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Two Catholic churches in Saskatoon were similarly vandalized last week after the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School, which the church operated.
Red hand prints and the words we were children were painted on the doors of St. Pauls Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon after a demonstration there Thursday. That night, someone poured red and orange paint on the Sisters Legacy statue at Reginas Wascana Centre.
Several historic churches in First Nations communities in B.C. have fallen victim to suspected arson in recent weeks, after the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
With files from Ashley Joannou, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Canadian Press  
jwakefield@postmedia.com
twitter.com/jonnywakefield
Edmonton Police Service Const. Patrick Malis collects evidence on Sunday, June 27, 2021, after a statue of Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II outside the Holy Rosary Church in Edmonton was vandalized.Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia
Edmonton Police Service Const. Patrick Malis collects evidence on Sunday, June 27, 2021, after a statue of Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II outside the Holy Rosary Church in Edmonton was vandalized.Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia
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