Family copes as 2nd accused appears in connection with Megan Gallagher's death

·3 min read
Brian Gallagher gathers with supporters outside of Saskatoon provincial courthouse on Friday. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)
Brian Gallagher gathers with supporters outside of Saskatoon provincial courthouse on Friday. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)

For the second day in a row, family and supporters of Megan Gallagher met outside Saskatoon's provincial courthouse to mark the appearance of another person charged in connection with her death.

On Friday, Roderick Sutherland made his first court appearance, charged with offering an indignity to a human body. Four people in total have been charged in connection with Gallagher's death, with police still searching for two of them.

Outside court, Gallagher's father said the process has been difficult for the family.

"Just exhausted. Just tired," Brian Gallagher said. "It physically drains everything out of your whole soul, your whole body."

Gallagher has been missing since September 2020. After her disappearance, her family repeatedly asked the public for help, buying a billboard and posting hundreds of missing posters around the city.

In January 2021, the Saskatoon Police Service announced it was treating Gallagher's disappearance as a homicide investigation.

During his brief appearance in court, the Crown prosecutor said she opposed Sutherland's release and asked that he be remanded until a bail hearing could be held.

He was also ordered to have no contact with three other people charged in the case — John Wayne Sanderson, Jessica Sutherland and Ernest Whitehead. All of the accused have been charged with offering an indignity to human remains.

Saskatoon Police Service
Saskatoon Police Service

Speaking to the media, Brian Gallagher asked the public to bring forward any information they had to police.

Since the charges were announced, Brian said his family has received many messages from people who knew his daughter.

"She's an extremely caring person," he said. "She would give her heart and soul to help anybody that asked. She liked to see people happy."

In a statement, Loretta King, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan's minister of women and gender equity, said progress in the case does not equal justice.

"Justice means that all individuals who had a hand in Megan's disappearance are properly dealt with," she wrote.

"Justice means Métis and other Indigenous women and girls do not face rates of violence and murder that scar our families and communities."

MMIWG inquiry

Brian Gallagher noted that the court appearance fell on the third anniversary of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. He said that violence against Indigenous women continues to be a serious issue.

"If you're an indigenous woman, you are 12 times more likely to go missing and be murdered than a non-Indigenous woman," he said.  "That's just totally unacceptable."

Brian Gallagher/Facebook
Brian Gallagher/Facebook

A progress report noted that Saskatchewan had made progress in implementing the inquiry's recommendations, including bringing in trauma-informed programming to help women through the justice system and signing on to the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

However, the report also noted the province still needs to increase the number of Indigenous employees who work for the government, as well as increased training for health providers, police and justice workers to learn about the history of Indigenous peoples and the impact of colonial policies.

This year's provincial budget includes $800,000 for community-led Indigenous projects, $400,000 of which was directed specifically at issues raised in the National Action Plan for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls through the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Community Response Fund.

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