A Westside Outlaws street gang member from North Battleford was handed a 720-day prison sentence for her part in two separate incidents.
Tonia Cantel, 22, pleaded guilty to three charges on April 13 in Meadow Lake Provincial Court.
“Quite frankly Ms. Cantel your behaviour was disgusting and I don’t mind being that blunt,” said Judge M. Segu before sentencing Cantel.
“What the three of you did was indefensible, and, but for the joint submission that is being put before the court, I would have zero hesitation imposing a longer sentence. Do you understand me? This behaviour is just atrocious.”
Cantel’s defence Laura Nischuk and Crown Prosecutor William Lewison, entered a joint-submission to the court.
Cantel pleaded guilty to stealing a Honda Civic and being an occupant of the Honda knowing there was a firearm in the vehicle in an incident stemming from Nov. 20, 2020, where five Westside Outlaws street gang members took RCMP on a 150-km, two-hour chase.
She also pleaded guilty to stealing a Ford SUV and using violence in an incident in Big Island Lake on Nov. 1, 2020.
The Crown stayed the remaining charges against her.
Nov. 20 incident
The Crown told the court that at about 3 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2020, the Maidstone RCMP were called to a report of a stolen vehicle in Lashburn. The owner had left his vehicle running and unlocked at the Esso while he ran inside. When he came out he saw his vehicle being driven away by three to four people all dressed in red.
RCMP located the Honda on Highway 16 and attempted a traffic stop but the car was travelling at a very high rate of speed and police decided not to pursue for public safety concerns. Saskatchewan RCMP Highway Patrol spotted it next and didn’t pursue either because of the high rate of speed the vehicle was travelling. They lost sight of the vehicle.
Shortly after, a school bus driver called RCMP to say he found a sawed-off shotgun on a road.
RCMP spotted the Honda, still travelling at a high rate of speed, near Paradise Hill. They notified the Turtleford RCMP Detachment, who set up spike belts on Township Road 540. The Honda ran over the spike belt and kept driving for a short distance before coming to a stop.
Lewison said that a young offender exited from the driver’s side, Tonia Cantel, Kyle Lajimodiere, Juanita Wahpistikwan, and another young offender exited from the passenger side.
“All five individuals were wearing red and are known by the RCMP to be members of the Westside Outlaws Street gang,” said Lewison, adding, “red is the colour associated with Westside.”
All five were taken into custody without incident. In the trunk, police found ammunition and a sawed-off .22, which had its serial number partially scratched off.
Nov. 1 incident
The Crown told the court that on Nov. 1, 2020, at around 4:45 a.m., several people were partying at a house on Big Island Lake. Tonia Cantel and Memory Sandfly got into an argument with Raquel Sundown. Sundown and three other people left and got into her vehicle, which was parked outside. That’s when Cantel, Sandfly and a young offender – all members of Westside Outlaws street gang – came out of the house and approached the vehicle. Sandfly and Cantel told Sundown not to leave and opened the driver’s door of the vehicle before pulling out Sundown. They threw her to the ground and the young offender pushed against the passenger door so those inside the vehicle couldn’t get out and help Sundown.
Cantel and Sandfly started kicking and stomping on Sundown’s arm and shoulder. Cantel got into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and started to drive the vehicle and ran over Sundown’s leg as she lay on the ground.
Lewison said Cantel didn’t intend to run over Sundown but that was the consequence of her actions when she tried driving away. Cantel drove about half a block when one of Sundown’s passengers, still in the back seat, reached around and grabbed Cantel by the neck. This forced Cantel to stop the vehicle. Another person with Sundown was able to run to the vehicle, open the door and pull Cantel out of the vehicle. Cantel, the young offender and Memory Sandfly fled the scene.
Sundown was taken to the hospital with a broken collar and shinbone.
Crown Prosecutor Lewison said Cantel has 20 prior convictions.
“There’s a number of extreme offences for violence on her record,” he said.
Lewison said Sundown’s injuries are an aggravating factor.
In the incident where the vehicle was stolen from Lashburn, Lewison said an aggravating factor was Cantel’s association with the Westside Outlaws street gang.
Nischuk told the court there are a number of Gladue factors for the court to consider when sentencing Cantel.
Cantel’s mother and grandmother both attended residential school.
Her father raised Cantel until she was six-years-old, at which time he died. She then went to live with her grandmother for two years until her grandmother died. Cantel didn’t have a relationship with her mother, who suffered from addiction, so Cantel was put into foster care at age eight.
“She was in four different homes and experienced physical and sexual abuse in those homes,” said Nischuk, adding Cantel often ran away.
Cantel has drug addiction issues and is willing to consider treatment if offered.
Nischuk acknowledged that being a member of Westside Outlaws is an aggravating factor but said Cantel wants to leave the gang.
“It’s not something she wants to continue. She recognizes that association is what is getting her into these situations. She has insight that having these negative peer associations is not helping her and it is putting her in these situations.
“She is very motivated to join STR8UP,” said Nischuk. STR8UP is a non-profit group that helps gang members leave the lifestyle.
“She is here before the court taking responsibility for what she can,” said Nischuk.
Judge M. Segu asked Cantel if she had anything to say before he sentenced her. Cantel, who appeared by CCTV from Pinegrove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, remained silent.
“All right, then let me say something to you,” said Judge Segu.
“This is the victim impact statement from Raquel Sundown whose leg you ran over. ‘I became depressed because I wasn’t able to do everyday tasks, or anything. I was angry and sad so I often pushed away loved ones; angry because the pain was unbearable sometimes and sad because I felt like a waste of space. You left me with a fractured tibia and a broken shoulder blade, which was painful and uncomfortable to do anything involving the right side of my body. I stayed in the hospital for five days. The third day I had surgery done on my leg. I was prescribed (numerous narcotics for pain). I have monthly check-ups to see if my leg is working.’
“What do you have to say about that Ms. Cantel?” asked Judge Segu.
Cantel spoke a few words, which were inaudible.
Judge Segu then told Cantel, “Well I don’t know if you ever had your leg run over, I haven’t but I can imagine it must be excruciatingly painful; all in the context of a group attack on a defenseless person. And then compounding it you attempt to steal her vehicle.”
Cantel was sentenced to 720 days in prison. With time served, she has 507 days left to serve.
Judge Segu banned Cantel from owning weapons for 10 years and ordered her to provide a DNA sample for the national DNA data bank.
Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist