A woman who pleaded guilty to throwing orange paint on a Vancouver Catholic church door in July 2021 has been given a conditional discharge.
Emily Luba, 27, pleaded guilty to mischief by wilfully defacing the wall of a church, the property of St. Jude’s Parish in East Vancouver. The incident happened amid the discovery of unmarked grave sites at former residential schools across Canada.
Twelve B.C. churches have been vandalized since May 2021, according to provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout.
“Many of the churches were splashed with red paint or orange paint... the colours of clothing associated to the young residents of the residential schools,” he said April 1.
In a March 30 decision, Rideout said St. Jude’s has 1,000 parishioners, most elderly people of Filipino, Chinese and Italian descent.
The judge said on July 1, witnesses saw Luba and her twin sister throwing orange paint onto the church. They were then observed walking away.
“One of them was wearing a jacket that had the words, ‘The Church is Complicit’ written on the back,” Rideout said. “There was also a small sign posted on the church that read, ‘Every Child Matters; Support the Ninety-four Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.’”
Police traced the painting to a Home Depot and found paint on clothing at the sisters’ home when a search warrant was executed.
Police laid charges against Luba and her sibling Zoe in September.
Rideout found Luba remorseful for her actions.
“I think of the church congregation who felt scared to worship due to the fear of escalating actions after I covered their church in orange paint,” she told the court. “The congregation is composed of people, mostly elderly, none of whom are to blame for residential schools.”
Rideout said at the time of the offences, Luba was a follower of a protest group known as the Braided Warriors; they reportedly define themselves “as a group of Indigenous youth warriors fighting for Indigenous sovereignty on the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations.”
Rideout said the Braided Warriors’ mission is to defend the land and people from capital colonial violence.
“Their mission includes their opposition to all resource extraction,” Rideout said. “One of their goals is to stop the insurers of the Trans Mountain expansion project and the related work they facilitate through the staging of protests at the premises of various insurance companies.”
Luba also pleaded guilty to interfering with the lawful use of the property of Polaris Realty Canada Ltd. at 999 W. Hastings Street. That property houses the Liberty Mutual insurance company.
In the Polaris case, Rideout noted the director of operations said the property was closed down for the day of the protest at significant financial cost.
Luba will also have to pay a $1,250 fine.