On September 4, 2022, Saskatchewan experienced an inconceivable loss of lives on James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon. Eleven lives were lost. The survivors, families of victims and the community at large have been changed forever due to the senseless acts of one individual.
We've heard of the bravery of local residents who went towards danger to assist and protect their loved ones and neighbours, some at the cost of their own life. The heartache that comes with remembering each loved one lost in these communities will never truly disappear. These heroic, selfless acts garner my deepest respect and are what I remember vividly when I think of September 4th.
We had over 500 personnel from almost every RCMP Division across the country (including 369 from Saskatchewan) from B.C. to the Northwest Territories to New Brunswick deployed to assist with the initial police response in the hours and days following this mass casualty incident.
I am humbled by the continued level of dedication from our employees:
- Family Liaison Officers have shown compassion throughout their work to ensure surviving victims and families of the deceased are supported and kept informed.
- Melfort RCMP has maintained a strong partnership with the James Smith Cree Nation Security team over the past year, which has been integral to ensure the safety needs of this community have been met.
- Saskatchewan RCMP Indigenous Policing Services supported our investigative units on cultural sensitivity and best practices when working with Indigenous communities. They also served as community liaisons to ensure Elders and the leadership on James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon had direct contacts to ask questions or voice concerns.
- In June, our Major Crimes Team, in conjunction with the RCMP Behavioral Sciences Branch, completed a preliminary report of the post-mortem psychological autopsy for Myles Sanderson. It is still undergoing internal review and will form part of the disclosure in preparation for the Saskatchewan Coroners Service Inquest in 2024.
Last week, I had the honour of standing alongside other first responders who assisted during the aftermath of this tragedy at the FSIN Traditional Health Gathering on James Smith Cree Nation. I continue to be in awe of the strength and resiliency of these communities as they continue to heal from these unspeakable acts of violence. Bringing people together is a necessary step to help shape the future and renew a community to a place of hope and healing.
To the individuals who call James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon home: the Saskatchewan RCMP is honoured to continue to serve you as your provincial police service with the utmost level of excellence, compassion and integrity you all expect and deserve.
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore
Commanding Officer of the Saskatchewan RCMP