Ten people killed in Canadian stabbing rampage identified

The 10 victims of the September 4 stabbing spree in Canada: (Top row, left to right) Gloria Lydia Burns, Gregory Burns, Lana Head, Earl Burns and Wesley Patterson; and (bottom row, left to right) Christian Head, Carol Burns, Bonnie Burns, Robert Sanderson, Thomas Burns [Courtesy RCMP/Sask First Nations Veterans Association/Facebook]

Police continue to search for suspect in attacks that devastated the Indigenous community and a nearby village in Saskatchewan.

Canadian authorities have released the names of the 10 people killed in a string of stabbings in remote communities in the province of Saskatchewan, as police continue to search for one of the suspects in the deadly attacks.

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service and Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Wednesday confirmed the identities of those killed in James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon on the weekend.

The people ranged in age from 23 to 78, and most were from James Smith Cree Nation, an Indigenous community that has been left reeling in the aftermath of Sunday’s deadly violence.

They are:

  • Thomas Burns, 23, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Carol Burns, 46, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Gregory Burns, 28, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Gloria Lydia Burns, 61, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Bonnie Burns, 48, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Earl Burns, 66, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Lana Head, 49, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Christian Head, 54, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Robert Sanderson, 49, of James Smith Cree Nation
  • Wesley Petterson, 78, of Weldon

The RCMP said the names of the 18 people injured in the attacks would not be released, but confirmed that a young teenager was among those hurt. The other injured people are adult men and women, police said.

Sunday’s attacks in Saskatchewan, a province on the Canadian prairies, mark one of the deadliest incidents of violence in Canada’s history, and have spurred widespread grief and fear.

Mark Arcand, whose sister Bonnie Burns and nephew Gregory Burns were killed in the attacks, said he didn’t want Bonnie to be remembered as a victim.

His sister was devoted to her family and “made a difference in peoples’ lives”, Arcand said during a news conference on Wednesday. “She’s not a victim. She’s a hero,” he said.

“She always put other people before her. That’s what we want people to remember. We want people to remember how she made you laugh, how she told stories at Christmas … at kids’ birthdays, at weddings, at celebrations.”

Annie Sanderson comforts her granddaughter after a deadly attack in Canada
People grieve in James Smith Cree Nation after the deadly attacks [File: David Stobbe/Reuters]

Search for suspect continues

Police continue to search for suspect Myles Sanderson, 30, who faces three counts of first-degree murder in the attacks, among other charges.

His brother, 31-year-old Damien Sanderson, was also a suspect and faced a first-degree murder charge, but he was found dead in James Smith Cree Nation on Monday. Police said Damien Sanderson’s body bore injuries “not believed to be self-inflicted”.

Saskatchewan RCMP on Tuesday ordered residents of the Indigenous community, home to approximately 1,900 people who live on the reserve, to shelter in place after they received reports of a “possible sighting” of Myles Sanderson. They later said he was not in the community.

Earlier this week, police had said Myles Sanderson could be in Regina, the provincial capital, approximately 320km (200 miles) from where the attacks took place.

But on Tuesday evening, Regina Police Service Chief Evan Bray said police had received information that Myles Sanderson is no longer in the city.

“Although we don’t know his whereabouts, we are still looking not only in the city of Regina, but expanded into the province, as well,” Bray said. “If you have any information that you think could assist us in the investigation, or locating and taking Myles safely into custody, we ask you to call us.”

First Nations University, a First Nations-owned institution in Saskatchewan, said candlelit vigils would be held at its three campuses in the province on Wednesday evening.

“What happened is unfathomable – a beautiful morning darkened by loss. Collectively, we feel the shock, so together, we will mourn, pray, and heal,” President Jacqueline Ottmann said in a statement. “Our hearts are broken, but our will and resolve to survive and move through this trauma, from the unspeakable, is unshaken.”

Parole decision questioned

Myles Sanderson had a long criminal record and many of his crimes occurred when he was intoxicated, Canadian media outlets reported. In May, he was listed as “unlawfully at large” after he stopped meeting with his parole officer following a statutory release from prison.

Citing a Parole Board of Canada document, the Canadian Press also said he had a violence-filled childhood, which led to a “cycle of substance abuse, seeking out negative peers and violent behaviour”. He could be “easily angered when drunk”, the document said.

The Canadian government has said there will be an independent investigation into the parole decision in Myles Sanderson’s case.

“We’ve got to make sure that the laws work, and in this particular case, obviously [it] led to an indescribably difficult tragedy,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters on Tuesday.

“I do think that coming out of this, there needs to be a hard look across all of our policies and all of our laws. But right now, the most important priority is to be there to support the families.”



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