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Jury returns with recommendations at James Smith Cree Nation stabbing inquest

After more than two weeks of testimony, the jury at the coroner's inquest into the stabbing massacre at James Smith Cree Nation is now sharing its recommendations to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Coroner instructed 6 jurors to come up with recommendations

People are seeing hugging outside a recreation centre.

After more than two weeks of testimony, the jury at the coroner's inquest into the stabbing massacre at James Smith Cree Nation is now sharing its recommendations to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The inquest, which began on Jan. 15 in Melfort, Sask., has been examining the events of Sept. 4, 2022, when Myles Sanderson killed 11 people — 10 from James Smith and one from the neighbouring village of Weldon.

During the past two weeks, jurors have heard from 30 witnesses including RCMP officers, a psychologist, forensic pathologists, Sanderson's former partner, officials from the Parole Board of Canada and the elders who worked with Sanderson in prison.

Six jurors were charged by Coroner Blaine Beaven Tuesday morning to come up with recommendations to try to help prevent similar deaths. The jury can make as many recommendations as they wish, or no recommendations at all.

The jury met with the family members Wednesday to share the recommendations before announcing them publicly.

The jurors were also asked to prepare a report for each of the dead, identifying the location, time and cause of death. The jury confirmed Wednesday evening that each of the victims died at James Smith Cree Nation, aside from Wesley Petterson, who died in Weldon, Sask.

The jury shared details of the wounds and determined the cause of each death was homicide.

The jury then gave the following 14 recommendations:

  • People in custody should be assigned one person who consistently monitors their progress, both in the facility and then in the community as they are reintegrated. This should be a cultural support social worker or community approval officer.
  • The federal Ministry of Public Safety should create a new category of dangerous offenders.
  • The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) should hire more workers in federal prisons.
  • CSC should increase programming for inmates and work to reduce the caseload on Indigenous elders and case workers.
  • CSC should increase its focus on parole officers keeping track of offenders in the first month after release.
  • RCMP should make sure any photos of people in the police database have a date clearly marked on them.
  • RCMP should increase resources to drug teams to track people involved in drug trafficking.
  • James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) should evaluate its community programming and consider adding programs related to addictions and substance abuse, victim services, adverse childhood experiences, domestic or intimate partner violence, traditional parenting, and programming for children.
  • JSCN should create a community resource package or brochure detailing available programming, distribute it to all community members and offenders being released back to the community, and make sure that all available programs are openly advertised.
  • JSCN should mandate that all houses have numbers posted on them, all streets have proper signs, and maps are updated and distributed to emergency workers.
  • JSCN and local RCMP should encourage collaboration and attendance at community events, such as ceremonies and celebrations, to foster positive relations and trust between the two parties.
  • JSCN should continue to provide funding and training to the James Smith Cree Nation Security Force to ensure the safety and security of all within the community.
  • JSCN should encourage leadership to continue the process of establishing a local police force in a prompt and timely fashion.
  • CSC should make sure community parole officers follow up with offenders to ensure they are receiving support and accessing appropriate medical care upon release.

During the inquest, many family members of the victims and survivors have shared their hopes for the recommendations to spark systemic changes across institutional systems.

WATCH | James Smith Cree Nation stabbing survivors share hopes for recommendations:

After listening to more than two weeks of testimony, the jury at the coroner's inquest into the stabbing massacre at James Smith Cree Nation is now deliberating. Family members of the victims and survivors shared their hopes for the recommendations Tuesday.

A second public inquest focused on the death of Myles Sanderson in custody on Sept. 7, 2022, is scheduled to begin Feb. 26 in Saskatoon.

Support is available for people affected by this tragedy. The Hope for Wellness hotline offers immediate help to Indigenous people across Canada. Mental health counselling and crisis support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.

You can talk to a mental health professional via Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It is free and confidential.

Talking Stick is a Saskatchewan-based free anonymous chat platform that connects people seeking emotional support to a trained Indigenous peer advocate 24/7.


Pratyush Dayal


Pratyush Dayal covers climate change, immigration and race and gender issues among general news for CBC News in Saskatchewan. He has previously written for the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and the Tyee. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UBC and can be reached at pratyush.dayal@cbc.ca

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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