July 17th, 2024

Details of how stabbing rampage unfolded expected on Day 2 of Saskatchewan inquest

By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press on January 16, 2024.

MELFORT, Sask. – RCMP are expected to explain how a mass stabbing unfolded on a First Nation on the second day of a coroner’s inquest in Saskatchewan.

Staff Sgt. Robin Zentner with the Mounties’ major crimes unit testified Monday that Myles Sanderson and his brother, Damien Sanderson, were causing chaos on the James Smith Cree Nation in the days and hours before the rampage.

The inquest saw text messages Damien Sanderson sent his wife saying he was ready to die.

Myles Sanderson killed 11 people and injured 17 others on James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon on Sept. 4, 2022.

Sanderson, who was 32, died in police custody a few days later.

Zentner’s testimony is to continue today with the RCMP’s timeline of how the killings took place.

RCMP have said Damien Sanderson was the first to be killed by his brother.

The inquest, which is being held in Melfort, northeast of Saskatoon, is to establish the events leading up to the killings, who died, and when and where each person was killed.

A second inquest focusing on Myles Sanderson’s death is scheduled for February.

The inquest heard Sanderson went to the First Nation to sell drugs a few days earlier. He got in a fight with his children’s mother and Damien Sanderson tried to calm him down.

The inquest heard the brothers drove around the community, getting into fights and selling drugs.

As the brothers spent more time together, Damien Sanderson’s texts to his wife became more fatalistic. Zentner said Monday that nobody has provided a full explanation for the tone of Damien Sanderson’s texts.

RCMP have said because Myles Sanderson is dead, people may never get all the answers about what happened.

First Nations leaders have said that the inquest may provide some answers to help families grieve.

A six-person jury was selected Monday morning and Keith Brown, the lawyer representing the First Nation in the inquests, said it’s important that half are visibly Indigenous.

Brown said the community is looking for the jury’s recommendations to look at changes to corrections and the parole board.

“First Nations, Indigenous groups, are really not treated as equal partners in the justice system,” he said.

First Nations leaders are also calling for First Nations to receive a notification when a member is released from prison.

Sanderson, who had a record of violent assaults, received statutory release earlier in 2022 but was unlawfully at large at the time of the killings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.

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