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Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Two churches on band land have been reduced to rubble and ash.

The Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band (PIB) land burned to the ground at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Less than two hours later, the church on Osoyoos Indian Band land in Oliver burned to its foundation.

At 1:24 a.m., Penticton Fire Rescue went to a structure fire at Green Mountain Road and Lilac Lane.

There is nothing left of the church and the flames melted the siding of a nearby building.

PIB Chief Greg Gabriel is expected to make a statement.

The fire in Oliver was on Nk’Mip Road and Spud Allen Road on Osoyoos Indian Band land.

According to Oliver Fire Department’s Rob Graham, they were called to the blaze around 3 a.m. When they arrived, the fire had been burning for sometime and had already burned down the structure down to the foundation.

The fire department stayed on scene until this morning with a water tender to cool everything down.

“There is sage brush in the area and some nearby homes that we wanted to protect,” said Graham.

Today, June 21, is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

A statement from B.C. Premier this morning recognizes the day is marked in grief.

“As we honour and celebrate Indigenous communities today, we must also recognize the systemic racism, discrimination and inter-generational trauma Indigenous peoples have experienced and continue to experience. These harms are a daily, lived reality for Indigenous peoples,” said premier John Horgan.

The City of Penticton will not participate in any formal Canada Cay celebrations this year out of respect for Indigenous communities across Canada.

The decision comes after the discovery of 215 deceased children at a former Kamloops residential school has sparked an increased spotlight on residential schools and on Canada’s overlooked, dark history with Indigenous people.

READ MORE: Penticton cancels Canada Day activities out of respect

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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