Canadian lawyer calls for churches to ‘burn,’ says she will help defend ‘anyone’ charged with arson
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ONTARIO, July 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A Canadian lawyer has publicly said that she would help “burn” down Catholic churches, as well as offering to help defend anyone caught attempting arson.
“It’s sad what’s happening to @HarshaWalia. But let me be clear, I would help her burn it all down.,” tweeted Naomi Sayers, who is an Indigenous lawyer based out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and licensed to practice law in Alberta and Ontario.
“And that would light our way forward. And also, I would help defend anyone charged with arson if they actually did burn things.”
Sayers remarks were made on Sunday in support of a social media post by Harsha Walia, executive director of the British Columbia (B.C.) Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA).
Walia’s Twitter post openly called for violence against Catholic parishes, saying to “Burn it all down,” after the discovery of unmarked graves at now-closed indigenous residential schools once run by the Church.
Walia’s comments came the same day that the centuries-old St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alberta, was reduced to ashes in what police deemed a suspicious fire. There also was a report of a fire at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Sipekne'katik First Nation, Nova Scotia.
Sayers webpage states that she has “a broad public law practice with a focus on indigenous law, administrative law (regulatory law), environmental, energy and mining law, criminal law and corporate law,” and that she offers “direct and candid legal services to everyday individuals, professionals, governments and other entities.”
Twitter user Dean Skoreyko blasted Sayers remarks, and said that he had filed a complaint with both the Alberta and Ontario law societies, before confirming later The Alberta Law Society had responded to his complaint.
Sayers responded to Skoreyko’s tweets by posting detailed information on how one can contact both law societies in order to file a complaint about her posts.
In another tweet, Sayers alleged that her earlier messages were not to be taken literally.
“Ps. Burn it all down. Doesn’t literally mean, burn it down. But just in case, I can also defend, both civil and criminal,” she wrote.
Another Twitter user identified as Rob Bar, took offence to Sayers remarks.
“Totally wrong and no way to reconciliation at all […] Have you listened to the Elders saying no to violence or you pick and choose […] I truly hope this was in sarcasm,” tweeted Bar.
LifeSiteNews contacted both the Alberta and Ontario law societies to ask if they would be providing comment regarding Sayers remarks.
Jennifer Wing, Senior Communications Advisor for the Law Society of Ontario replied to LifeSiteNews, saying that any information concerning specific complaints made to them as well as any investigations are confidential, “until or unless they result in regulatory proceedings, which would be public.”
Wing added that if one wants to make a complaint against a lawyer, they are to do so via the official complaints process, the contact information of which is listed at the end of this report.
Colleen Brown, Manager of Communications for the Law Society of Alberta, responded to LifeSiteNews saying that when a complaint about a lawyer is brought forth to the society, “we assess each matter according to a process that is fair and consistent for both the lawyer involved and those providing the information.”
Brown also noted that complaints against lawyers are confidential and that any comments about a complaint are “guided by the Legal Profession Act.”
As for Walia’s comments, according to a Global News report, she claimed on Twitter that it was “totally ridiculous to suggest I am actively calling for arson,” before adding that “yes, I do think deadly genocidal colonialism locally and globally needs to collapse.”
Intense media coverage of the unmarked graves at the now-closed Kamloops Indian Residential School located in British Columbia has resulted in over 23 churches, most of them Catholic, having been either burned or vandalized.
Further discoveries of gravesites in Saskatchewan also made media headlines in late June. It was shortly after this news that attacks on Catholic churches intensified.
An online map posted by True North News shows the locations of all churches that have been burned or vandalized.
A total of five churches have been completely reduced to ashes, along with three being heavily damaged by flames. The remaining churches have been vandalized in some form, including 10 churches in Calgary, Alberta, that were damaged on Canada Day.
While Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has condemned the attacks on churches, it took Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau three weeks after the first churches were set ablaze to publicly comment on the attacks.
Trudeau has said that it is “unacceptable and wrong” for churches to be burned, but has also said that it is “understandable.”
The Kamloops Indian Residential School was run by the Catholic Church from 1890 until 1969 and was closed by the federal government in 1977.
Although the residential school system was founded by the secular government in the 19th century, and then woefully underfunded by the state, and although different religious groups were asked to run the schools, the Catholic Church has borne the brunt of recent criticism.
Once the government mandated attendance at the schools in the 1920s, children were forcibly removed from their families and parents threatened with prison if they did not comply. Upon arrival at the school, children rarely saw their families, with many disappearing or never seeing their families again.
A priest who spoke to LifeSiteNews under condition of anonymity after the first two churches on indigenous land in British Columbia were set ablaze, said that First Nations Catholics will suffer the loss of their churches, but that sadly we can “expect more” burnings to come.
The priest also called out why acts of vandalism against Catholic churches are not called out as hate crimes.
“Why it is when two Catholic churches are torched (as they just were), and it hits the news, the words are ‘police are investigating the cause...’ but [when] a mosque or synagogue is burned, it’s a hate crime?” he asked, before offering an answer, “it’s because there’s an unspoken prejudice that it’s okay that Catholics suffer.”
A report from the early 1900s by a medical inspector ]showed high rates of tuberculosis among Indigenous children as well as a lack of proper funding from the government.
Mortality rates for children under the age of five record 297 deaths per 1,000 births in 1900. That figure only dropped beneath 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1935, with high rates of child mortality consistently seen from 1910 through 1920.
In a recent report published by LifeSiteNews, well-known Canadian Catholic author Michael O’Brien, who himself attended a residential school for three years, cautioned against using the discovery of the graves as a reason to attack the Catholic Church.
O’Brien, who has gave testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told LifeSiteNews that the chief underlying issue in the residential school saga was the institutional abuse of children being removed from their families by the state authorities, and then taken to the schools, noting the “long-term psychological and social effects of this.”
Another report published by LifeSiteNews highlights how Cree playwright Tomson Highway, as well as the late Inuvik Dene band chief Cece Hodgson-McCauley, said that attending the schools set them up for success later in their adult life.
“All we hear is the negative stuff; nobody’s interested in the positive, the joy in that school,” Highway said to journalist Joshua Ostroff about the Guy Hill Residential School he attended, which was run by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
As for Trudeau, he has blasted the Catholic Church publicly, saying, “Make it clear that we expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records, as necessary. It’s something we are all still waiting for the Catholic Church to do.”
However, the Catholic Church in Canada as well as in Rome has already acknowledged that some Catholics were at fault in the government-mandated residential school system.
In April 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met with First Nations representatives and apologized for the abuse children suffered in the schools.
Phil Fontaine, then-national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, emerged from the meeting satisfied, saying, “What we wanted the Pope to say to us was that he was sorry and … that he deeply felt for us.
“We heard that very clearly today,” Fontaine added.
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To launch a complaint against a lawyer with the Law Society of Ontario visit the link: