James Smith Cree Nation Marks Year Since Deadly Stabbing Rampage


Amid an array of emotions, Chief Wally Burns gave voice to the heavy hearts in the James Smith Cree Nation as the community marked the sorrowful anniversary of a mass stabbing incident that shattered their tranquility.

“Our peoples’ heartsache is palpable, for it’s been a year since the terrible event occurred. Yet, I view this occasion as a tribute to life, affection, and regard,” shared an emotionally-charged Burns.

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The grievous event unfolded on September 4, 2022, when Myles Sanderson embarked on a deadly knife-wielding rampage both on the First Nation and the neighboring town of Weldon, leaving 11 individuals lifeless and 17 critically injured.

Twelve months on, and the community, still scarred, congregated in a solemn assembly to honor those they tragically lost, culminating in two days of collective gathering underscored by remembrance, mourning, and introspection.

Patty Hajdu, Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, graced the event with her presence, declaring what befell the community was far from accidental. She imparted words acknowledging the deeply entrenched problems born from generations of families wrestling with the repercussions of loss, sorrow, and trauma— the enduring legacy of colonialism.

Hajdu ensured her constituents of the federal government’s active involvement in helping the First Nation weather the aftermath, highlighting over $9.3 million provided in supports over the past year, complemented by an additional commitment of $42.5 million over the succeeding six years for the establishment of a mental wellness facility.

“The community will be instrumental in defining what this center will encompass,” she asserted.

Beginning on Friday, solemn processions and ceremonies were observed within the confines of the James Smith Cree Nation, choosing to keep the doors shut to external entities and press, thus providing its inhabitants with the privacy to mourn.

Longtime resident Robert Head reflected on the day’s gravity, observing a community navigating their way through varying extents of post-traumatic stress, with some finding strength in therapeutic interventions while others are yet to muster the courage to engage in communal events as their healing journey continues.

The neighboring hamlet of Weldon shared in the community’s grief in remembering that night’s final victim, Wes Petterson, having been a vibrant member of the locale’s coffee club.

“We, the companions of the Silver Tone, found solace in collective reminiscing by the fireside,” recalled Mabe Nesbitt, a fellow Weldon resident, in memory of her departed friend.

In this period of collective grieving and recollection, the James Smith Cree Nation and surrounding settlements found solace in their unity, demonstrating unwavering resolve to heal and forge ahead, with the memories of the harrowing day a year ago etched in their hearts, never to be forgotten.