Ottawa promises review of parole board's decision to release stabbing suspect from incarceration

·3 min read
Annie Sanderson comforts her granddaughter, who was close with Gloria Lydia Burns, 62, who was killed on James Smith Cree Nation after a stabbing spree killed 10 people on the reserve and nearby town of Weldon, Saskatchewan, Canada. September 5, 2022.  (David Stobbe/Reuters - image credit)
Annie Sanderson comforts her granddaughter, who was close with Gloria Lydia Burns, 62, who was killed on James Smith Cree Nation after a stabbing spree killed 10 people on the reserve and nearby town of Weldon, Saskatchewan, Canada. September 5, 2022. (David Stobbe/Reuters - image credit)

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Tuesday evening announced that the Parole Board of Canada will review its decision to uphold Saskatchewan stabbing suspect Myles Sanderson's release from minimum security incarceration.

The board ruled in February that it did not consider Sanderson to "present an undue risk to society" in its decision to maintain his release.

Sanderson was initially released from incarceration in a healing lodge in August 2021, but that release was suspended in November after it was determined that he had violated the conditions of his release.

In February 2022, the board cancelled that suspension and ruled that Sanderson's original release should be upheld.

Sanderson, along with his deceased brother, Damien Sanderson, is the main suspect in a mass stabbing that left 10 dead and 18 injured in the area of James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, Sask., on Sunday. He is now the focus of a sprawling search.

"I am assured that the Parole Board of Canada will be undertaking an investigation of the decision," Mendicino told reporters in Vancouver. "I think the process for a review begins there, but it certainly does not end at that point."

Mendicino also indicated that Ottawa would push for a more comprehensive review of the events that led to Sanderson's release and his role in this weekend's killings.

"There will be an appropriate time and a place to review policy and resourcing and we need to embrace that review, we need to be transparent with Canadians to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again," he said.

Trudeau offers 'whatever resources' are needed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier on Tuesday promised to deliver "whatever resources are needed" to police in Saskatchewan and to James Smith Cree Nation during the ongoing search for Sanderson.

"Being there with whatever supports are needed right now in this moment of crisis is our focus," Trudeau told a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Vancouver.

"As a federal government, we're ensuring that whatever resources are needed by the police and jurisdiction are received to be able to put an end to this situation, and to allow people to grieve without fear and to start the healing process that will take an awfully, awfully long time, because this was an incredibly horrific and traumatic event."

The prime minister said his priority at the moment is to help authorities resolve the search for Sanderson.

He said conversations later on will revolve around helping the devastated rural community, which is about a two-hour drive northeast of Saskatoon.

"There are going to be many, many conversations about next steps and how we move forward and yes, the federal government will be there for that," Trudeau said.

WATCH | Indigenous Services minister discusses Ottawa's response to mass stabbing:

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu has confirmed that a range of services will be made available to James Smith Cree Nation in the wake of the tragedy.

Those services include mental health counselling, coverage of funeral costs and medical transportation coverage for victims, along with accommodation, food and essential needs for displaced people.

Indigenous Services Canada said those needs were among those identified by Chief Wally Burns of James Smith Cree Nation.

The government department also has pledged to support "security within the community."