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BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Ellis Ross, BC Liberal leadership candidate and current MLA for the northwest provincial electoral district of Skeena, spoke out today (June 21) in the wake of two Catholic churches in the Okanagan being burnt to the ground on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Ross said he condemns the “senseless acts of violence” and that reconciliation is about finding a way forward rather than taking revenge for past tragedies.

Ross issued the following statement on the church fires Monday:

I wholeheartedly condemn these senseless acts of violence.

In this difficult time, British Columbians and Canadians must remain calm.

My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by this senseless act – indigenous and non-indigenous. Now more than ever, we must remember that we are all British Columbians, and we are all Canadians.

This is not the time for more of the old-fashioned politics that pits British Columbians against each other. This divisive approach to politics has held our province back for far too long. We need change. Change that can bring us together.

For too many years, “reconciliation” and “change” have been passed back and forth like a political football without any meaningful action. It’s time for leadership, not politics.

In the aftermath of the horrible discovery at Kamloops, my heart has been filled with hope watching indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians come together to mourn the victims of residential schools. I am in awe of how far we’ve come.

Let it be those feelings of togetherness, community, and shared suffering that we now draw upon in the wake of this horrible incident, rather than hate, anger, or bitterness about the past.

Reconciliation isn’t about taking revenge for past tragedies – it’s about finding a way to chart a path forward so we can all share a great future. It’s about all British Columbians and all Canadians, working together to build strong, healthy, prosperous communities in this great country in which we live.

We must ensure future generations of Canadians – indigenous and non-indigenous – won’t be held back by the divisions of the past.

It is the responsibility of all leaders to help British Columbians and Canadians come together, so that we can all heal. I will speak more on this in the coming days.

Right now, I urge all to stay safe and please be calm. Together, we will get through this.”

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel also said he condemns the fires Monday, but also stressed that they cannot speculate as to whether or not the person(s) responsible has any connections to local Indigenous communities.

RCMP are treating the fires as suspicious and have launched investigations.

READ MORE: Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

READ MORE: Two churches on band land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

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Jesse Day

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