“This tragedy must have a purpose,” the native leader says of Sask. stabbing | TBEN radio


The current19:54Change must come from tragedy of mass stabbing in Saskatchewan, says FSIN vice chief

It’s been 11 days since a deadly stabbing terrorized the James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, but some Indigenous leaders say the healing process has only just begun.

“The magnitude of the trauma and the disbelief, I think — it’s just beginning,” said Heather Bear, fourth vice chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

“I don’t think we have realized the full impact of what caused this tragedy,” she said The current guest host Nahlah Ayed.

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10 people were killed and 18 others injured in the September 4 attacks in the James Smith Cree Nation area and the nearby village of Weldon, Sask.

The prime suspects, Damien and Myles Sanderson, died in the days following the attacks. Damien was found dead on September 5 and Myles died a few days later, shortly after he was arrested.

VIEW | Outpouring of Support for James Smith Cree Nation After Tragedy:

Outpouring of Support for James Smith Cree Nation After Tragedy

As James Smith Cree Nation organizes funerals for the victims of the horrific stabbings, people from surrounding Saskatchewan communities come together to support them in times of need.

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Bear said the victims and perpetrators had family ties to James Smith Cree Nation — and their relatives are feeling the impact of the stabbings “10 times, 12 times.”

“I see there’s a lot of emotion here when you look at the close ties, and the full impact hasn’t been realized,” she said.

But Bear says she also witnesses “amazing strength and courage” in the community.

“While they go through a lot — and they will go through a lot — I only know by their strength and what I see and how they deal with it that they’ll be fine,” she said.

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The road to healing, Bear says, is a “long, hard, hard road,” but “a tragedy like this should never have happened” — and it must be prevented from happening again, both in James Smith Cree Nation and the United States. rest of Canada.

“I believe we are on the cusp of major changes because of the tragedy at James Smith,” she said. “But this tragedy must have a purpose — and I think everyone believes that.”

Heather Bear, fourth deputy chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said policing is a huge divide in indigenous communities. “We need those boots in our communities,” she told The Current. (Chans Lagaden/TBEN)

‘We can’t wait’

According to documents from the Parole Board, prime suspect Myles Sanderson grew up with physical abuse and domestic violence.

He also started using cocaine at age 14 before switching to crystal meth, according to the documents.

Chief Robert Head of Peter Chapman First Nation, one of three bands that make up James Smith Cree Nation, told TBEN News that he is all too familiar with the way some use alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of the past. .

“I would say that more than 80 percent of us have relatives who have experience with an Indian residential school,” he told TBEN News.

“It’s a really big deal because they inherited all that trauma.”

That’s partly why Bear believes governments should act now.

“We can’t wait — see what happens to our people,” she said.

VIEW | Demands on First Nations Police Forces After Murders in Saskatchewan:

Demands for First Nations Police Forces After Murders in Saskatchewan

Calls for dedicated First Nations police forces are mounting after a series of stabbings in Saksatchewan resulted in the deaths of 10 people, including nine members of the James Smith Cree Nation.

One way to get out of this tragedy the right way, Bear says, is to improve policing within communities like James Smith First Nation.

“The police are a huge chasm,” she said. “We need that. We need those boots on the ground in our communities.”

The key, according to Cree attorney Eleanor Sunchild, is to have “community police” that can build relationships with any First Nation, not just respond to crisis situations.

“We really need police in the community who know the community, who know their problems and define what they need in terms of security so we don’t have to rely on the RCMP which is 40 minutes away,” she told Ayed .

Bear said policing is an essential service — and there needs to be “community mobilization, prevention and awareness, and some sort of training” around community policing.

“We have strategies,” she said. “We already have, you know, cadres. They just need to be funded.”