A sign at Sylvan United Church supporting Black Lives Matter was vandalized last week. (Submitted)

A sign at Sylvan United Church supporting Black Lives Matter was vandalized last week. (Submitted)

BLM sign vandalized at Sylvan United Church

Minister hopes to have conversation with vandal

Racism is alive and well in the Cowichan Valley, laments the minister at a local church where an outdoor sign supporting Black Lives Matter was vandalized.

At the request of the congregation, Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay had posted the words “Black Lives Matter” to the sign boards visible from Shawnigan Lake-Mill Bay Road. Some time overnight between Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24, about two weeks after the words went up, someone broke into the sign, removed the letters spelling “Black Lives Matter,” and spray painted the word “Smile” on one side of the sign and “God was here!” on the other side.

Rev. Katherine Brittain said it was disappointing but not surprising to see backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement, even in Mill Bay.

“I think racism is alive and well and very overt,” she said. “But sometimes it’s more subtle and comes out in sneakier ways.”

Brittain doesn’t take issue with the sentiment that “God was here,” she said, but in using them to replace “Black Lives Matter” the graffiti was an affront to the beliefs of the United Church of Canada.

“It made me really upset because the way the United Church understands God is that you don’t erase someone’s suffering in order to put God’s name down,” she said. “It’s everything we stand against.”

Brittain grew up on Vancouver Island, and returned two years ago after nearly 20 years away, including time in Toronto, where she says racism is typically directed at the Black community. Here, the victims are more often First Nations.

“Racism against Indigenous people is overt and endemic,” she said.

Racism, both overt and otherwise, needs to be addressed, Brittain continued.

“There is overt racism, but there is also the need for those of us who have so much privilege to acknowledge that we have privilege,” she said.

The Christian church has been complicit in racism, Brittain acknowledged, and it needs to stand up and apologize publicly for that. The United Church of Canada holds itself to a set of standards it calls PIE: Public, Intentional and Explicit, in being inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community, and she feels that policy should apply to anti-racism as well.

Personally, Brittain would like to speak face-to-face with whoever vandalized the sign at her church.

“I’d like to have a conversation with the person and find out what’s going on in their heart,” she said. “What are they feeling? Is there something deeper going on? What is happening in your soul that you thought that was something you had to do?”

She encourages that person to contact the church, and she will arrange an appropriate, socially distanced meeting.

“If we sit in our camps and in our own silos and talk to our own people, there will never be change,” Brittain said. “There will always be entrenchment. I want to sit down and have a respectful conversation. Even if we don’t agree with each other, at least we can understand where the other is coming from.”

Crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Commercial property owners in Duncan will have an opportunity to beef up their security in 2021 with matching grants from the municipality. (File photo)
City of Duncan to help commercial properties increase security

Municipality to set up matching grant opportunities

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Input sought on Chemainus campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

Most Read