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Trudeau visiting First Nation community hit by stabbing spree

Trudeau visiting First Nation community hit by stabbing spree

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Canada PM’s visit to James Smith Cree Nation comes after leaders called for resources to set up tribal policing and addiction services.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting an Indigenous community still grappling with the aftermath of a fatal stabbing spree in September that marked one of the deadliest incidents in Canada’s history.

Trudeau will travel to James Smith Cree Nation on Monday, his office said, to pay his respects to the victims of the September 4, 2022 rampage in the community, located in the central province of Saskatchewan.

The prime minister will meet with James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns and other Indigenous leaders, before making an announcement on Monday afternoon.

Burns had called for greater resources in the aftermath of the attack, including the establishment of tribal police in the community.

Ten residents of James Smith Cree Nation, home to approximately 1,900 people who live on the reserve, were killed in the series of fatal stabbings. Another person was killed in the nearby village of Weldon, while 18 others were injured.

Canadian police said last month that they believed only one of the two brothers initially accused of being responsible for the attacks carried out the murders.

Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said Damien Sanderson, initially named as a suspect in the attacks, “was a victim of homicide” by his brother, Myles Sanderson.

After a days-long search following the stabbings, Myles Sanderson was arrested and died after going into “medical distress” in police custody.

Authorities have not released a motive for the attacks and the RCMP said last month that “the reality is, we may never really know exactly why”.

Some community members and Indigenous leaders have said the violence was the result of drug abuse.

“This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities,” Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said in September.

Burns, the James Smith Cree Nation chief, also had called for the launch of addiction awareness programmes and for treatment centres to be established in the community.

“We’ve got to protect our community, fight against drugs and alcohol,” he said days after the spree.

Canadian media outlets had reported that Myles Sanderson had a two-decade-long criminal record and many of his crimes were carried out when he was intoxicated.

Meanwhile, two public inquests into the attacks will be held in Saskatchewan.

“The events that occurred require a methodical and complete investigation,” Clive Weighill of the Saskatchewan Coroners Service told reporters on September 21.

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