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LETTER: Loss of church has some treating their neighbours differently

"The fire investigation isn’t even done yet, and our premier spouts off about how it appears to be a 'hate-motivated act of violence,' and my little town is painted in such a negative light."
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I have lived in Morinville for just shy of 15 years. I love my little town. I love seeing the same cashier every time I go to the grocery store. I love seeing the same pharmacist who always has a smile. I love being able to walk down the street and say, "Hello," to every person I meet and to be greeted back with a smile.

On June 30 at 6 a.m., my son sent me a text to tell me the St. Jean Baptiste Church burned down. I was shocked and in a great deal of disbelief. I took a short walk and saw it for myself. I sat on the park bench across the street and cried. Did I cry for the building? No. I cried because I cannot fathom how messed up our world is.

My grandparents immigrated to Canada in 1951. My grandfather spoke highly of the Canadian military; it was brave soldiers that liberated the Netherlands after the Second World War that made him want to come to this country. He was a proud Canadian. He taught me to love this country, flaws and all.

Our history is messy, pain-filled, and sad. I don’t know a country in the world that doesn’t have some messy parts. My heart feels heavy. I walk daily by the site of the church and my heart hurts. Not for the building, but for the people who have lost their place of worship; for the people who thought burning a church was the right thing to do; and for our premier who has incited more anger than healing. After his comments there have been stories of Indigenous people being told they weren’t welcome in Morinville.

How have we come so far as a society, and yet we are still so lost and confused as to how to treat people?

The fire investigation isn’t even done yet, and our premier spouts off about how it appears to be a "hate-motivated act of violence," and my little town is painted in such a negative light. Alexander First Nation is our neighbour and I refuse to believe I should treat them any differently than the person who actually lives next door. I know there are many people who think the same way I do, who don’t want the spotlight put on this town. I know the church will rebuild and I know Morinville will rise from this, but where will the media be then?

Adrienne Hazelaar, Morinville