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‘They were children’ — Seattle’s St. James Cathedral vandalized over ‘residential school’ graves

Friday morning’s vandalism echoed messages painted on Catholic churches like this Saskatchewan cathedral

Seattle’s St. James Cathedral on First Hill was vandalized Friday morning in property damage echoing a wave of protest following the discover of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Canada’s Saskatchewan province.

According to police, the 9th Ave Seattle cathedral’s large bronze door was found early Friday covered in red paint that read, “How could you? They were children,” vandalism causing “thousands of dollars” in damage and “consistent with what the church is seeing at several churches in Canada.”

Late last month, the doors of a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Saskatoon were splattered with red paint after the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the former school. Earlier this year, remains of 215 children were found near the former Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia.

St. Paul’s in Saskatoon was targeted in June (Image: Donna Heimbecker/Facebook)

Outrage over the deaths and cover-ups led to a wave of protests again Canada Day on July 1st. In the United States, the Independence Day holiday brought another wave of events and activism.

Saturday, protesters marched through downtown Seattle in a “Cancel Independence Day” demonstration “to honor the memory of the 1323 Indigenous children who lost their lives at residential schools in Canada.” A memorial was also held Sunday at Alki Beach.

Washington also has its own history of “mission schools” — boarding schools from the early 20th Century formed to organize education of Indigenous youth in federally organized or subsidized facilities.

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