Story updated at 4:35 p.m. with additional information and content
Above: The Town held a media availability at 11 a.m. at Town Hall. Above is Theron Hogg’s footage of that media availability.
Lucie Roy Photos
Stephen Dafoe Photos
Theron Hogg Video
Morinville RCMP are investigating the fire that resulted in the complete destruction of Morinville’s St. Jean Baptiste Church.
The Town of Morinville Fire Department said a 9-11- call was received at 3:08 a.m. Wednesday morning reporting a fire at the church in Morinville. The time of dispatch was 3:10 a.m. with Morinville Fire Department crews arriving on the scene at 3:20 a.m.
“Upon arrival, crews determined the fire was already well involved in the basement of the structure. Fire crews attempted to make entry, but the building was charged with smoke and collapse was already occurring,” a Town press release reads.
Crews got the fire under control by 6:58 a.m. but the church was completely destroyed due to the fire. Crews remained on scene throughout the day.
Equipment and personnel from Gibbons, Bon Accord, Legal, Sturgeon County, St. Albert and Edmonton assisted with approximately 50 firefighters on scene.
Nearby buildings were saved including the former convent building which sustained water and smoke damage. Approximately 50 residents were evacuated and will remain out of the building for 48 hours. Many were taken to the Morinville Legion for shelter, water and food.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. An investigator is on the scene.
In a media availability at 11 a.m., Mayor Barry Turner spoke to the loss of the historic church. That statement was released by the town late Tuesday.
Premier Jason Kenney was joined by Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity and Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale Nally and Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Dane Lloyd in a second press conference later that morning.
In a social media post Tuesday afternoon, the Premier wrote: “I visited the burned-out remains of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Morinville to express my sorrow and solidarity with the local community, Franco-Albertans, and Catholics across the province.
“We must all reject hateful acts of violence whenever and wherever they occur.”
In Morinville, Kenney announced a doubling of the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program from $1 million to $2 million annually to “help protect churches and other targets of hateful vandalism and violence.”
Kenney said he has instructed Minister Madu to work with ALERT and the province’s police chiefs to step up monitoring and protecting potential target sites.
Below is the Premier’s video can be viewed at https://fb.watch/6sGoXW6T25/
Heart braking, that was such a beautiful site arriving in Morining. Will never be able to replace it.😔
A very sad day for Morinville.
Whatever our personal thoughts may be regarding the circumstances leading to the destruction of our ” Iconic Church “, they should remain personal.
Let us put out trust in the investigators to provide answers, and we as a community come together and move forward.
This is such a sad day for our town.
We can respond with anger and vengeance or we can respond by loving our neighbours.
Now if only they could have figured out traffic control with the detours they have, at least turn the stop light to a 4 way while the road is blocked off traffic is getting ridiculous
Is it wrong to burn a church? Yes , it is wrong but at the same time, I understand the anguish and the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools. It is time the Catholic Church and all Catholic Clergy apologize for the horrible wrongs committed in the name of God
They have, apologized actually, over and over, all Dioceses involved. They have also worked in truth and reconciliation for years. But media is not saying that and I cannot understand why. The discourse in media and authorities is increasing hate instead of fairness.
That 2 million to protect the churches sure could help get clean water on the reserves. Mr Kenney needs to rethink his priorities!
You can not change the past! You can only change how we proceed from this moment on. Stop putting the blame on others. We all have/had a voice. This act of destruction was not to punish the present citizens of Morinville but an act of revenge on what the Catholic churches USED to be!
It is sad to see people are still living in the past and not moving forward. Yesterday is not Today. Our past is where we have been, what we have done and how we have dealt with things/situations etc.
Find a way to heal…. just like and injury. The scars are still there (as a reminder) but, it does not determine who we are NOW and what we have become in the past decades. You can only control your attitude, your words. You either choose to be a victim or positive advocate for the next generations!
We are all sinners, we all have done mistakes, no one is perfect, speak the truth, be kind to each other. We all need to heal together by supporting and to be kind to each other. Today’s destruction has impact many old and new generations in this town, from many cultures, and religious belief, Francophones, English, Jewish, Metis, German etc. I am in tears to see what this world is coming to! We are dealing with enough sadness all over the world (death, flood, fire, Covid, etc)
This should have never happen! We do not want to relive the horror and pain people felt in the past. We need to be smarter and talk with WORDS not act by destruction and vandalism. Time to heal and treat each others with respect and kindness not hate and blame. I BELIEVE in Canada, lets play nice, our future depends on it!
Hungry dogs from the dark streets of Cadiz,
Prowling the land of the feathered serpent.
The gardens of Cholula they did enter,
The perfume of flowers drifting from trees.
By Quetzalcoatl these men had been sent,
Safely escorted to the town centre.
Feathered adorned girls danced on marbled floors,
Plates of fruit and sweet meats were presented.
Bearded white men marched with mud on their boot,
Black robes muttering “beware of these whores.”
The Spaniards approach was not resented,
There was no need for anger, no need to loot.
The steel shirts gawked in a wondrous awe,
At walls resplendent in silver and gold,
Embellished with hieroglyphs from the past.
Unable to comprehend what they saw,
In this place so mysteriously old,
Where they trod, knowledge would no longer last.
The Conquistadores saw only treasure,
With only the heathen to block their way,
The soldiers quietly locked the main gate,
The Cholulans offered rest and pleasure,
Instead the Spaniards drew their swords to slay,
Six thousand died in that orgy of hate!
The false Quetzalcoatl was then revealed,
Hernan Cortez, the face behind the mask,
The feathered angel of death and darkness,
The fate of the Mexican tribes was sealed,
The Franciscans began their evil task.
Ignorant minds driven by hearts of greed,
Melting history into golden bars,
Tossing scrolls and secrets on the fires.
Voracious vampires lusting to feed,
Despoiling cultures with ugly raw scars,
Motivated by base born desires.
Torched were the libraries of the Maya,
Burned by Friar Diego de Landa,
As Indians burned at the holy stake,
Destroyed were the Aztecs, Incas, Maya,
Their cultures erased by Friar Landa,
As Spain and the holy church took their take.
The Conquistadores robbed humanity,
Volumes of history lost forever,
Leaving remnants to tease and beguile.
Few survived the Catholic insanity,
Our connection to the past they did sever,
Exercising their self-righteous style.
Arrogant, plundering, pompous papists,
Preaching with cannon, sword, bible and cross,
Sacrificing Indians for their god,
Vatican ordained, sadistic rapists,
Ignorant of the immense cultural cost,
In this great self-serving religious fraud.
There stands today, the ultimate insult,
Upon the place where tens of thousands died,
Where treachery flooded the stones with blood,
Stands a church of the vile Roman cult.
Where mothers suffered as their babies cried,
Where children were trampled into the mud.
For the Maya it was the end of times,
For the Inca it was the end of times,
For the Aztec it was the end of times,
The Christian god forgave these awful crimes,
Indian riches paid for Spanish crimes,
Confession absolved the Spaniards of these crimes.
Thus did the Conquistadores win the day,
Rivers of blood, the screams of the dying,
Beneath the magic of the holy cross,
Priests rewrote the history and had their say,
A history of bigoted lying,
To cover up humanity’s sad loss.
The Spanish brought germs, guns, and swords of steel,
They brought the bible, the cross and the stake,
They brought death, poverty, misery and pain.
All who rejected the Christ they did kill,
These soldiers of intolerance and hate,
Who have left us a legacy of shame.
Much of the gold resides today in Rome,
The swords of the Conquistadores have rusted,
Their evil bones have turned to blackened dust,
The Indians forever lost their home,
With their killers, their fate has been entrusted,
Forced to turn to Jesus to worship and trust.
Brutalized, vanquished, and now forgotten,
Long gone is the strange great Lord of the Dawn,
Long forgotten are the ancient histories,
Thus have the conquistadores begotten,
Horrific revelations of Saint John,
Burying forever the great mysteries.