As Canadian Police Look for a Stabbing Suspect, Tensions Are High

In the words of the Associated Press: “JAMES SMITH CREE FIRST NATION, Saskatchewan.” Concerns grew on a Saskatchewan Indigenous reserve on Tuesday as police surrounded a home with their weapons drawn and released a statement saying they believed the suspect in a murderous stabbing spree over the weekend was still in the area.

Even when police decided it was a false alarm and the suspect was not in the area, folks were understandably on edge about his location and the province-wide alert that was still active.

Early on, residents of the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve were urged to remain indoors. A journalist for the Associated Press heard yelling and saw people fleeing as police blocked off streets.

On Monday, authorities located the body of the fugitive’s brother and co-suspect, Damien Sanderson, among the crime scenes. Authorities are looking into whether or not Myles Sanderson was responsible for the death of his sibling. Ten people were killed and 18 were injured, according to the accusations against the brothers.

Most of the stabbings occurred in the James Smith Cree Nation, and the community’s leaders have blamed drug and alcohol consumption, which they say is a legacy of colonization, for the bloodshed.

As Canadian Police Look for a Stabbing Suspect, Tensions Are High
As Canadian Police Look for a Stabbing Suspect, Tensions Are High

Darryl Burns and his brother, Ivor Wayne Burns, both of James Smith Cree Nation, stated their sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, was a first responder who was slain on the job. Burns revealed that his sister, 62, worked for a disaster response organization.

He explained that while responding to a call at a residence, she was attacked. To put it another way: “She was there to assist. She deserves to be called a heroine.”

He pointed to colonization as the root cause of substance abuse on reservations, and blamed narcotics.

Here, three years ago, there was a murder-suicide. They’re my granddaughter and her boyfriend. Two people were murdered in our town last year. Darryl Burns reported that ten more people had died this year due to substance abuse.

Ivor Wayne Burns, the deceased’s brother, also claimed that drug use was to blame for his sister’s untimely passing and argued that the accused brothers should not be reviled.

We have to forgive them, he continued. To paraphrase an anonymous source: “When you’re on hard narcotics like coke, heroin, crystal meth, and the like, you can’t feel a thing. You stab someone in the back and laugh about it. That’s right; you stab them in the back while laughing.

Blackmore said police were still trying to figure out what motivated the stabbings, but the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations agreed that drugs were a possible cause.

This is the kind of devastation we confront when dangerous illegal substances penetrate our communities, said Chief Bobby Cameron, who called on all authorities to follow the advice of the tribe’s leaders in order to build safer, healthier neighborhoods for the people who live there.

Blackmore stated that Myles Sanderson’s criminal history stretches back several years and includes violent offenses.

After being released from jail in August 2021, his freedom was temporarily revoked in November of the same year due to his deception concerning the whereabouts of his former spouse and their children. The ban was lifted in February after a hearing at which the board imposed limitations limiting and monitoring his interaction with the woman and his children.

The parole board’s evaluation of Myles Sanderson and the minister of public safety has been informed that an investigation will be conducted.

Mendicino demanded an explanation for the decision and an accounting of any errors that may have been made. For the sake of objectivity, the review must be conducted by an outside party.

I’m really worried about what’s going on here,” he remarked.

Although mass murders are rare in Canada compared to the United States, this stabbing incident was one of the deadliest in the country’s history. In 2020, a guy posing as a police officer killed 22 people across the province of Nova Scotia in the bloodiest gun spree in Canadian history. The year 2019 began with a horrific van attack in Toronto, where a man killed 10 people.

Although mass stabbings are less common than mass shootings, they have still occurred. Slashing and stabbing perpetrators killed 29 people at a train station in Kunming, a city in southwest China, in 2014. In 2016, 19 people were killed in a stabbing rampage at a facility in Sagamihara, Japan, that cared for the mentally impaired. A year later, three guys used a van and knives to kill eight people on London Bridge.

Sunday morning at 5:40 a.m., police in Saskatchewan received their first report of a stabbing, and within minutes, they received reports of numerous more. According to Blackmore, there were 13 separate spots on the sparsely populated reserve and in the town where bodies or injured individuals were discovered. The closest Cree settlement to Weldon is James Smith Cree Nation, which is roughly 30 kilometers (20 miles) away.

Wes Petterson, a retired widower who enjoyed his morning coffee at the Weldon senior center, has been named as one of the victims by the town’s inhabitants. William Works, now 47, and his mother Sharon Works, now 64, recalled that he enjoyed gardening, collecting berries, preserving, and making jam and cakes.

William Works remarked of his neighbor that “he would give you the clothes off his back if he could,” exemplifying the values of “kind old fellow” and “community first.”

Sharon Works was perplexed, saying, “I don’t see why they would target someone like him anyway, because he was just a poor, helpless little man, 100 pounds soaking wet. Additionally, he was afflicted with asthma and emphysema to the point where he could not speak, and everyone was concerned about him because of his unique personality. To him, it was always about other people. Also, they were concerned about him.

Police Chief Evan Bray of Regina, Saskatchewan, had claimed as recently as Monday that officers believed Sanderson to be in the city, but he said on Tuesday that new evidence suggests Sanderson may have left.

Despite the fact that “we don’t know his whereabouts,” Bray emphasized that the search was continuing throughout the province and not only in Regina.

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