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Woman in Vancouver church vandalism case must write apology note as part of sentence

Vandalism outside St. Judes in Vancouver. (St. Judes Parish and Shrine/Facebook) Vandalism outside St. Judes in Vancouver. (St. Judes Parish and Shrine/Facebook)
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A woman who admitted to vandalizing a Vancouver church will not serve time behind bars, a judge ruled earlier this week.

Emily Luba pleaded guilty to a mischief charge involving the defacing of a wall at St. Jude's Parish with paint in July. She entered the same plea to a charge of mischief involving the property of Polaris Realty Canada that occurred last April.

In a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Judge Gregory Rideout told the court Luba had no criminal record.

She'd been a "follower" of the protest group called Braided Warriors, a group that, as described by Rideout, is made up of "Indigenous youth warriors fighting for Indigenous sovereignty on the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam Nations."

This group was involved at a protest on April 14 at a Liberty Mutual Insurance Company office, targeted because of its involvement in the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, in a property owned by Polaris Realty Canada. Luba was arrested at the site following a demonstration that included padlocks, chains, yelling and swearing, as well as assaulting members of the Vancouver Police Department, according to Rideout's decision, which was posted online

It is unclear how much of the action Luba was involved with, but the court heard that she went limp when she was handcuffed to make it harder to bring her to a police cruiser, and that she refused to identify herself.

"It would appear that they anticipated being arrested as they had the name and phone number for a lawyer printed on their arms," Rideout wrote.

In an unrelated incident on Canada Day, the judge said, Luba and her twin sister went to St. Jude's Parish on Renfrew Street, and were seen by witnesses "throwing orange paint at the church using two small cups and scooping the paint out of a larger bucket."

The incident was captured on camera by a witness, and those videos were later posted online

One of the sisters wore a jacket with the words, "The Church is Complicit" on it, suggesting the act was tied to the discovery in the spring of what are believed to be about 200 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

Police said they found a small sign at the church that read, "Every Child Matters," and that a banner attached to the church was covered in orange handprints, further suggesting the church was targeted because of recent discoveries on residential school grounds.

According to Rideout, police were able to trace the paint – which had been left at the church – to Home Depot, and then to Luba's sister.

A warrant was obtained to search the siblings' home, and inside, police said, officers found clothing with orange paint on it.

The women's phones were also searched, and contained evidence linking them to the church vandalism.

"The evidence included a selfie photograph of the accused and her sister sitting on a bus with orange paint on their clothing," Rideout said.

Luba's sister's alleged role was not part of Wednesday's sentencing hearing.

Ultimately, Rideout decided that Luba would be sentenced to a conditional discharge. Conditions include that she report to a probation officer, write a letter of apology to the pastor and congregation of St. Jude's, and complete 40 hours' community service.

She's barred from the properties of the church and the insurance office, and cannot own utility chains, zap straps, PVC pipes or duct tape "unless possessed for lawful employment purposes."

Luba must also pay surcharges adding up to a total of $1,250.

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