Canadian News Jul 9, 2021 5:37 PM EST

Former Catholic church in Saskatchewan burns to the ground

Just past noon on Thursday, a church approximately 80km northwest of the city of Saskatoon was engulfed by flames and burned entirely.

Former Catholic church in Saskatchewan burns to the ground
James Anthony Montreal QC
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Just past noon on Thursday, a church approximately 80 km northwest of the city of Saskatoon was engulfed by flames and burned entirely.

The church was located in the area of Redberry Lake, and local residents began to gather around the burning church after seeing the smoke rolling across the prairie.

"It was surreal, I was in shock," said Lynn Swystun, who lives around 1.5 km from the site, and was apparently the first person to discover the church.

"Flames were already coming out of the windows and stuff … It didn’t take long for it to completely crumble, maybe about half an hour," she continued, according to CTV News.

"We weren’t going to save anything, the fire wasn’t going anywhere. So, we just watched it burn. Neighbours from all around came out, some were in tears of course."

There have been over a dozen churches (of various denominations, but mostly Roman Catholic) burned in Canada recently on the heels of the discoveries of hundreds of remains of children who were buried at the grounds of residential schools.

Lynn Swystun and her husband, Douglas, both claimed that the church had no electricity or gas services hooked up to it, and that the grass surrounding the church was not on fire, which makes them suspect arson, although the local RCMP has yet to pronounce on the case.

The church hadn't been in active use since the year 1985, but it had symbolic and sentimental value to the residents, as Douglas Swystun commented, "The church burning, this is burning a hole in our hearts."

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