By Sofia Gouveia
On September 4th, 2022, a mass stabbing occurred in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Saskatchewan leaving 10 dead and 18 injured. That afternoon, police received a call that 32-year-old Myles Sanderson was standing outside a home armed with a knife. He then began to flee the property in a white Chevrolet Avalanche truck. This was when the beginning of the manhunt as the RCMP began to alert the public of the danger. As the police began searching they received several calls about sightings of the vehicle that Myles Sanderson was using to get around. Myles was charged with one count of attempted murder, three counts of first-degree murder, and one count of breaking and entering. After a four-day manhunt, Sanderson was arrested by police on a highway near Rosthern, Saskatchewan. While in custody, Myles Sanderson supposedly went into what professionals called “medical distress” and later died in the hospital. Interestingly enough, Myles wasn’t the only Sanderson named to be a suspect. Police named his brother, Damien Sanderson a suspect but later found him dead nearby another scene only a day after the attacks.
Let us take a moment to remember the victims of such tragedy. 23-year-old Thomas Burns, 46-year-old Carol Burns, 28-year-old Gregory Burns, 61-year-old Lydia Gloria Burns, 48-year-old Bonnie Burns, 66-year-old Earl Burns, 49-year-old Lana Head, 54-year-old Christian Head, 78-year-old Wesley Petterson, and 49-year-old Robert Sanderson. May they all rest in peace.
Many agree that there is a need for First Nations policing on reserves like James Cree Nation. The Saskatchewan stabbings acted almost as a wake up call for the federal government. There have been several complaints about the timing of when the police show up to a scene from when the call is made, it could be half an hour, an hour, or even more if the call isn’t directed straight to local police in the area. For the Saskatchewan stabbings, the first call that was made went to the RCMP who only arrived at the scene approximately thirty minutes after that call was made. Indigenous policing on reserves is a major step in ensuring their safety and one more step to repairing the trust that was broken between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. The federal government has stated that they are going to make an effort to introduce a bill in this coming fall which will ensure policing in Indigenous communities as an essential service. Efforts still need to be made and support still needs to be given to ensure the passing of the bill.