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Saskatoon woman accused of abducting her child and faking their deaths pleads guilty to 3 charges

Dawn Walker, a Saskatoon woman accused of abducting her child and faking their deaths, entered three guilty pleas on Thursday morning at provincial court.

Dawn Walker given 12-month conditional sentence and 18 months probation

Lawyers for Saskatoon woman Dawn Walker say the kidnapping and other charges against her should be stayed after her human rights were violated in multiple ways.

Dawn Walker, a Saskatoon woman accused of abducting her child and faking their deaths, has pleaded guilty to three offences.

Walker pleaded guilty in Saskatoon provincial court Thursday to abduction in contravention of a custody or parenting order, making statements that were false and misleading for the purpose of obtaining passport, and possessing forged documents with the intention of committing an offence.

She had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges against her earlier this year. All charges other than the three she pleaded guilty to were stayed Thursday.

The charges stem from a high-profile incident last year. In the summer of 2022, Walker and her child became the focus of an extensive missing persons search after they seemed to disappear without a trace from Saskatoon. They were found safe in Oregon City 12 days after they were reported missing.

Police found Walker and her child by following bank transactions for gas, food, Netflix and Airbnb rentals. U.S. officials sent Walker back to Canada to face criminal charges.

Walker was charged with abduction in contravention of a parenting order, mischief and charges related to forged documents and identity theft.

Walker spoke in court after entering her pleas Thursday.

"As an Indigenous parent it is my sacred duty, responsibility, to protect my [child]'s innocence," Walker, who is from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan, said. "My only motivation was love."

Walker described her actions as a lapse of judgment.

"I am truly sorry for my actions," she said. "I cannot change what I did, but I will learn from it, grow from it and help others."

The Crown and defence made a joint submission asking for a 12-month conditional sentence — which would mean Walker could serve it in the community — followed by 18 months of probation. Judge Brad Mitchell accepted the sentence after reviewing victim impact statements, letters of support and additional material submitted.

The submission cited aggravating factors including months of planning by Walker, her staging a crime scene by Saskatoon's river bank and the whole case having cost at least $100,000 in public resources. It also cited mitigating factors including Walker pleading guilty, being remorseful, complying with bail conditions and having undergone a psychological report that showed a low risk to reoffend.

The conditional sentence order is a term of jail to be served in the community. If Walker breaches the conditions, she could face consequences including jail time.

Walker still faces charges in the U.S. of felony aggravated identity theft and misdemeanour identity theft.

Walker has been represented in court by Marie Henein, who is one of Canada's best-known defence lawyers.

After she was detained in 2022, Walker issued a statement that said she was a victim of domestic abuse and had no choice but to flee the country with her child.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kendall Latimer

Journalist

Kendall Latimer (she/her) is a journalist with CBC News in Saskatchewan. You can reach her by emailing kendall.latimer@cbc.ca.

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