It has been a year since a ma*sive stabbing tragedy took place in the James Smith Cree Nation, claiming the lives of 11 people and injuring 17 others in the First Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon.
Chaos descended on the First Nation a year ago when 32-year-old Myles Sanderson moved from house to house, kicking down doors and attacking people.
On Monday, the community came together to remember and celebrate the lives of those who died too soon.
“We are struggling in this community,” said Chakastaypasin band leader Calvin Sanderson.
Chief Sanderson was one of many affected by the tragedy. Damien Sanderson, Myles’ brother and one of the 11 victims who lost their lives, was found near Chief Sanderson’s home.
“I don’t even feel comfortable where I live right now,” he said. “One of these individuals lost his life near my house, and I didn’t even realize he was lying there. He was trying to come to my house for help, and no one knows what would have happened if he had succeeded.
This is one of many stories community leaders shared on Monday as they reflected on the journey the community has come in the past year.
“A year ago, everything fell apart,” said James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns. “But now that we look at it, … (today) it’s a celebration of life, love and respect.”
Many believe that at the heart of the problem lies a clear sign.
“The residential schools, the abuse, the alcoholism, the discrimination — it all comes together and drives people to do horrible things,” said Chief Robert, Band Chief Peter Chapman.
It’s something Patty Hajdu, the federal Minister of Indigenous Services agrees.
“It didn’t happen by chance,” Hajdu said. “This is the result of generations of families who have similarly experienced loss, grief and trauma.”
Chief Sanderson said more needs to be done internally and externally to prevent such tragedies from occurring.
“Stop hurting us, stop hurting our own loved ones. This has to stop,” he said.
The federal government has pledged approximately $40 million for a treatment center at James Smith and pledged to help establish First Nations policing. On Monday, Hajdu gave no updates on either service’s timeline, but implementing them is expected to take years.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.
“Canada stands united in mourning those whose lives have been swept away by this tragic and senseless violence,” the statement read. “Today we pause to remember them, their loved ones and the communities that have been changed forever.”
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I offer my deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims. We will continue to work in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country to advance Indigenous and community approaches to mental safety and well-being so that a tragedy like this does not happen. reproduce more.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe shared his thoughts on the anniversary on social media.
“Today we celebrate the solemn first anniversary of the tragedy that took place in the James Smith Cree Nation,” said Moe. “Collectively, we pause to remember and honor the victims and their families as we reflect on the healing journey. »
As the sun set on James Smith on Monday, a candlelight vigil was to be held on the First Nation to remember those lost in the attack.
“Healing is not an overnight project. It will take years,” Head said. “We want to thank everyone around the world who lifted pipes… and did everything to make sure we survived this year. »
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