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Saskatchewan stabbings: Full authority to visit graves

JAMES SMITH CREE NATION, SASK –

Governor General Mary Simon on Wednesday placed cigarettes on the graves of several people who died in a violent stabbing attack at the James Smith Cree Nation earlier this month.

She spent about an hour at St. Stephen and the cemetery, where most of the dead from the northeastern community of Saskatoon are buried.

“I just think about the people who died because they were innocent people, and I really have no words for that,” said Simon, an Inuk leader who became the first indigenous governor-general in the country. Canada, said.

“It’s just a sense of loss that people are feeling, and I can only imagine what they’re going through. I’m not even fully part of this community and I’m feeling it. heavy and sad.”

A spokeswoman from the governor’s office said she was invited to First Nation by Sheriff Wally Burns.

Ten people were killed on September 4 and another 18 were injured in the First Nation and a nearby village.

Simon, along with Burns and other local leaders, spent about two to three minutes at each grave, where the flowers were still fresh.

The Governor-General places cigarettes in each grave, starting with Gloria Lydia Burns. The bag was placed next to other mementos left behind by family and friends, including signs referring to her as “the hostess”, religious candles and rocks inscribed with “for” sentiments. Go, cherish, trust.”

Simon ends up at the grave of Gregory Burns, placing a cigarette near a teddy bear that says “All Lives Matter” and angel wings. Beside him is the grave of his mother, Bonnie Burns, decorated with bingo dabbers, a pink cowboy hat and hearts.

Leaving the church grounds, Simon stopped for 10 minutes at a ditch where Earl Burns died in his school bus rolled into the street after he was attacked. Retired military veteran who is a community school bus driver.

Simon then went to Bernard Constant Community School, where the students are now back. The school has been closed since the stabbing to hold funerals in the gym, which Chakastaypasin Band Leader Calvin Sanderson said highlights the need for a healing lodge for the community.

His band is one of three that coexist on James Smith Cree Nation.

Inside, Simon meets the families of some of the victims while attending a ceremony, dining on traditional fried fish and watching dough dancers. She stood up to dance with Wally Burns.

“It made me realize how difficult it is to talk directly to some family members to deal with this trauma.”

Simon said. “You hear it on the news ΓǪ but it’s never quite the same when talking to people who have faced such a terrible event.”

First Nation leaders say many in the community know the suspects, Damien and Myles Sanderson.

Both brothers died: Damien from non-self-inflicted wounds, and Myles on September 7 after a medical accident while in RCMP custody.

“Everybody is affected. We’ve lost loved ones, our loved ones,” Calvin Sanderson said on Wednesday.

“Members are still locking doors and pulling guns out and we have to make sure they’re protected in our community with our own safety.”

Calvin Sanderson said Simon’s visit was an honor, and he hopes the governor will continue to help the First Nation. In addition to the medical motel, he appeals to the First Nation police service and housing.

Three houses, which were crime scenes after the attack, remain vacant despite being cleaned up.

Calvin Sanderson said some families don’t want to return home after their loved one is killed and now they need a place to stay.

Simon said she would send back a message with her to Ottawa.

“Today is a very important day for me because I came here and I understand a lot more about what the community is going through,” said Simon.

“So my message when going back is: we’re supporting the community as much as we are now, we’re going to need ongoing support for the community in the long run because of this kind of trauma and pain.” This sadness doesn’t go away easily.”


This report by the Canadian Press was first published on September 28, 2022

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