Support pours in for communities affected by Sask. mass stabbing attack

·3 min read

Counselors, community organizations and politicians in Saskatchewan and across Canada are rallying support for the communities of James Smith Cree Nation and nearby Weldon, and everyone affected by Sunday’s mass stabbing attack that left 10 people dead and 19 injured.

The provincial government has activated the provincial command, deployed victim services to the communities affected and added additional staffing resources, supplemented law enforcement resources with 16 staff from Provincial Protective Services; and offered "the full support and resources of the province" to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and RCMP.

The province said social supports "for the community area will be supported by Saskatchewan Health Authority’s mental health staffing resources, Prince Albert Grand Council, and the local community."

Others are also stepping up to help.

In Prince Albert, the Bernice Sayese Center is encouraging people to donate supplies like paper plates, hand soap, meat, potatoes and bottled water to be delivered to JSCN to help with upcoming funerals.

“As we are all affected, we feel we need to help,” said Dawn Sanderson Robins, who sits on the board of directors for the Bernice Sayese Center. “(These) things (will be) needed for the days ahead, and if you want to donate items they can be dropped off at the Bernice Sayese Center.”

The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) has also been hosting "a number of families" from JSCN in Saskatoon, and is supporting them with medical and mental health care, as well as financial assistance.

"STC is stepping up to take care of everything for those that have lost so much," the council wrote in a statement. "Many escaped their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Many have loved ones currently still in hospital."

As of Tuesday afternoon, people wishing to donate clothing, toys or hygiene items to help the JSCN members currently being housed in the city can drop them off at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon.

Further south, from Regina, a group of volunteers with Warriors of Home Community Support has gone to JSCN to offer help.

“We’re just here to see what kind of support we can offer,” said Warriors of Hope communications officer Shylo Stevenson. “We have many of our volunteers that are grief and trauma counsellors, social workers, and follow traditional ways, and our role here is to offer those supports.”

The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has said it will provide crisis and grief counselling for Métis and First Nations families in Weldon and the neighbouring community of Kinistino, as well as supporting efforts at JSCN.

“We will help these communities and our First Nation brothers and sisters in whatever way we can through this extremely trying time,” said MN-S President Glen McCallum.

Other agencies and politicians have promised help — with specific supports to come in the days, weeks and months ahead as the communities begin to bury their dead, and their urgent and long-term needs become more clear.

“I’ve been in contact (with) Chief Wally Burns to ensure that his community’s needs are met under their declared (state of emergency),” Association of First Nations Chief RoseAnn Archibald wrote in a statement on social media.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, said Indigenous Services Canada “commit(s) to supports being made available as quickly as possible.

“Indigenous Services Canada is working with all partners to identify and mobilize supports that can be put in place,” Hajdu said in a statement on Monday morning. “We will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

Many of the public statements also pointed people in need of support to the available crisis help lines.

The Hope for Wellness line is available to support all Indigenous peoples, and can be reached at 1-855-242-3310 or at hopeforwellness.ca

Crisis Services Canada can be reached at 1 833-456-4566, and Saskatchewan’s crisis line can be reached at (306) 933-6200.

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix