Tribute to Victims of Tragedy in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Saskatchewan

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, I rise as a senator from Saskatchewan and do so with a heavy heart at a time of mourning and healing following the events of September 4 at the James Smith Cree Nation and the Village of Weldon, Saskatchewan.

As people around the world know, a mass stabbing occurred with 10 victims killed, two suspects deceased, and 18 victims injured, including one young teen, making this one of Canada’s worst mass killings.

In the wake of this violence, we remember the victims and support the affected persons and communities. We remember those lives lost: Bonnie Goodvoice-Burns, 48; Gregory “Jonesy” Burns, 28; Lydia Gloria Burns, 61; Earl Burns, 66; Lana Head, 49; Robert Sanderson, 49; Thomas Burns, only 23; Carol Burns, 46; Christian Head, 54; and Wesley Petterson, 78.

Senators, we remember them all and think of their loved ones, as well as those injured, wishing them a speedy and full recovery.

These are resilient communities who will pull together and find the strength collectively to cope with the trauma.

Leaders and citizens will also ask, “What lessons have we learned, and how can we prevent such tragedies?”

In a statement, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said:

This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the Chiefs and Councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns is calling for the funding of on-reserve addiction treatment centres. Another call for attention centres on Indigenous policing services.

In this instance, the RCMP acted swiftly, and two officers from the Melfort RCMP detachment, 45 kilometres away, arrived within 38 minutes after the call; however, we can do better than that.

We all need to support the collaborative work under way to establish more Indigenous policing programs with the clear objective of developing dedicated policing services within Indigenous communities so that they can enjoy their equal right to personal security and public safety, regardless of where their communities may be located.

Through this, we can ensure that the community police services know local people, understand their needs and commit to long-term service.

Colleagues, there will be opportunities ahead for further reflection. For now, we offer our prayers and deepest condolences. Thank you. Hiy kitatamîhin.

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