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Saskatoon Tribal Council seeks public's help for James Smith victims

Monetary donations will go to the families of the victims.
STC Chief Mark Arcand 1
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand chats with reporters after a media briefing at the STC office on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

SASKATOON — Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand kept his emotions in check to address what he called a senseless attack on innocent individuals in the James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon on Sunday, Sept. 4.

Brothers Damien and Myles Sanderson were named as suspects in a stabbing rampage that left 10 people dead and 18 others injured in over 13 locations on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, both northeast of Saskatoon.

“We’re here to announce support through the chiefs of the [STC] for the victims and the families of James Smith Cree Nation. Our deepest condolences go to the families and communities that have been affected by this senseless act,” Arcand told members of the media late Tuesday, Sept. 6, afternoon at the STC office boardroom.

“[This] tragedy, nonsense that I call it, has affected a lot of people’s lives in our communities, in our cities, in our province and frankly in our country. We all know the stats about the tragedy and who is out there.”

Both were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and break and enter as the manhunt continued to locate the suspects. Damien Sanderson, however, was found dead on Monday, Sept. 5, in a grassy area on the James Smith Cree Nation.

Myles Sanderson, who was described as six foot one and 200 pounds, remains at large as of posting time and is believed to be injured.

Arcand appealed to the public to help the more than 50 people and their families in the city who are either seeking treatment due to their injuries or who are trying to overcome the trauma of the still unexplained attacks.

“I’ve talked to [James Cree band] Chief Wally Burns and I’ve let him know that we’re here to help. He asked us to support the families in his community. These families are now set up in three different locations in the city of Saskatoon and I’m not going to disclose these locations,” Arcand said.

He added that STC also formed a triage team that has been supporting the families with food, clothing, activities for the children, mental health support, care packages, a mode of transportation and whatever they need to be comfortable in dealing with the traumatic experience.

Arcand said St. Thomas More College has agreed to provide the families with meals while other organizations also pledged various donations to assist the individuals seeking refuge from the tragedy.

“We’re looking for clothing for these individuals. A lot of these families had to flee and they came with the clothes on their backs. Some individuals didn’t bring their glasses or medication. They were fleeing for their lives,” said Arcand.

“There are people who are also looking for diapers and [baby] formula. Right now, it is all about the people. The people coming together from our city of Saskatoon, from our province to support this crisis. That we’re going through.”

He added donations can be dropped off at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge on 20th Street West or call 306-653-7676. Any monetary donations will also go to the victims and their families.

“We don’t know how long these individuals will be staying in the hospitals. We hope everyone makes it through this difficult time through their injuries, through the trauma. There’s a lot of trauma right now in these families and these communities are dealing with the situation that they are going through right now,” said Arcand.

“We’re here to support you [Chief Burns and James Cree community]. We love you and we care about you. You are our brothers and sisters. We’re all in this together and this goes for every other First Nation across the communities and non-First Nations people. We’re all treaty people and we all get to come together and we got to celebrate the good times and also got to work the tough times and make sure we’re all working so everybody has a quality of life. So, to the James Smith Cree Nation, its families and leadership, we stand behind you and we support you.”

This is the second time a mass casualty event has happened in Saskatchewan since 2016. Four people died while seven were injured in a shooting spree in the northwestern village of La Loche on Jan. 22, 2016.