BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) accepted the resignation of its executive director, Harsha Walia, following a controversial tweet advocating for the burning down of Catholic churches.
“Burn it all down,” she tweeted on June 30.
This comes after dozens of churches across the country were destroyed by suspected arsons following the uncovering of over a thousand unmarked graves at several sites of former residential schools.
The Board and Staff at the BCCLA thanked her for her “bold, skillful, and compassionate leadership” in a press statement Friday. They added that in light of the “extremely challenging times of the pandemic,” Harsha built and “deepened important relationships” with BCCLA’s partners and community stakeholders.
According to Global News, the tweet divided people on Twitter, with some calling her message inflammatory and hateful, while others were quick to defend the tweet, citing the “grief and rage” of Indigenous Canadians.
Since June 30, she has locked her Twitter account and was not available for an interview request with Global News.
In the statement, BCCLA added:
“She worked with integrity to strengthen our policy positions especially on policing, Indigenous self-determination, and immigration… she demonstrated a deep commitment to civil liberties and human rights and furthered our work on equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Her colleagues praised her for her “vision” but provided no comment on the nature of her dismissal other than that she quit.
Former Senator and Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Murray Sinclair took to social media earlier in July to express his disdain for the “acts of destruction” towards churches. “The people who commit these acts and those who condone them, need to understand how much they set back any chance of moving the dialogue on changing the bad relationship we have, forward,” he said.
Sinclair added: “Do you really think this is going to help? Of course, you don’t. That’s not why you did it. You may have been instigated by people bent on making you look bad. You may have easily acted to do this because of the anger you feel and some sort of sense of getting even.”
He concludes: “I feel no pride in any of you who did this.”