A vandal destroyed statues at a Montreal Buddhist temple — an attack one temple employee hopes wasn't racially or religiously motivated. On Saturday night last month at around 2 a.m., Luu Nguyen, who works at the Quan Am Temple in Côte-des-Neiges, says she was woken up by a loud banging noise and noticed that the lion statues at the temple's entrance were destroyed. She dialled the police but the vandal left the area before they arrived at the scene.

Quan Am Temple is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Montreal and has operated as both a temple and a community centre for over 30 years. 

This was the second incident in as many weeks, says Nguyen. Another temple, Thuyen Ton in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, was also the target of similar vandalism, an employee confirms to MTL Blog.

"It seems like they're targeting the Vietnamese temples and community in Montreal with these attacks. At first, we thought it was just regular vandalism, like a drunk man or something. But it seems like a religious thing or racist thing and you know, I hope it isn't that," Nguyen said.  

The SPVM confirms to MTL Blog that police are investigating the incident, explaining that, "as these are acts committed against religious symbols, they are treated as hate crimes."

Now, temple workers are mostly worried about the safety of their congregation.

"One day, there will be no more statues to break and someone might come in and break something inside the temple. You know, the monks pray that it doesn't happen but it's not easy for them," said Nguyen. 

The statues that adorn the temple are all handmade, created with specialized marble from Vietnam.

Making even one statue requires years of labour and artisans or materials aren't readily available in North America. 

Though it breaks Nguyen's heart, she's hopeful that the statues will eventually return to their former glory. 


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"In the old times, lion and dragon statues were said to protect the temple and the people inside," said Nguyen. 

Vandalism also took place in Chinatown this week.

The lion statues guarding the gate on the corner of boulevards René-Lévesque and Saint-Laurent were graffitied with a large black "X".

In a now-viral Facebook post, a Quan Am Temple volunteer expresses their fear that "the Asian community in Montreal is currently being targeted with hate crimes."

"We share the street with two mosques and we've never had a problem with anybody," added Nguyen. 

"You know, we live in a country with so many freedoms so I don't understand why there's so much hate."

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