A statue of Pope John Paul II was covered in red paint and red handprints on Saturday outside Edmonton's Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Red footprints and stuffed animals were found at the base of the statue.
This is the latest act of vandalism against a Catholic structure after several Catholic churches were destroyed last week in suspected arsons.
Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said an unidentified female vandalized the statue around 11:10 p.m. and is continuing their investigation.
EPS said its Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit knows of the incident, but will not take charge of the investigation until the northwest division properly assesses the incident, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Pope John Paul II served as the second-longest head of the Catholic Church, visiting Canada thrice. Holy Rosary Church has priests of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which operated 48 residential schools, including the Kamloops Indian Residential School and the Marieval Indian Residential School where 215 and 751 unmarked graves were recently uncovered.
The authorities have not announced yet whether the fires that burned down several churches are connected to the graves located on the grounds of former residential schools.