Sask. Indigenous leader who lost sister, nephew in stabbings details horrific scene

During a somber news conference, the head of one of Saskatchewan’s leading Indigenous organizations revealed he had lost his sister and nephew in the tragic stabbing attacks that occurred on James Smith Cree Nation.

“We’ve shed a lot of tears in the last couple of days,” Mark Arcand said while breaking up.

“We’re hurt, we’re broken, but we’re not defeated.”

The Saskatoon Tribal Council leader asked news media to refrain from using his title because he is just one of many who has been touched by the tragedy.

Arcand said his sister Bonnie Burns, 48, and his nephew Gregory Burns, 28, were among those fatally stabbed in the incident that has led to 11 deaths and 19 injuries.

Like most people in Saskatchewan, Arcand said he first learned of the attacks by an intrusive alert issued to phones throughout the province. He said throughout the morning he learned more about the horror that had unfolded.

Arcand said later that day, he drove to the community — calling the trip the “longest two hours” of his life.

He said his first instinct was to go to his sister and touch her and hold her, but he could not.

Arcand said Bonnie was killed “right outside of her home.”

“She was protecting (Gregory), she was protecting three little boys. This is why she is a hero,” Arcand said.

“She was a true matriarch in the First Nations way of living.”

He said another person trying to help his sister was also killed “right there in the driveway” and a 13-year-old boy was stabbed in the neck.

Arcand said he watched his relatives lay outside until late afternoon as police investigated the crime scene, one of 12 in the community.

“I have a lot of respect for the RCMP because of what they did that day,” Arcand said.

“They had a big job that day with that community.”

He said two young foster children Bonnie was caring for witnessed the attacks.

“One of the young boys was hiding behind a highchair watching everything unfold,” Arcand said.

He said he is haunted by what he saw that day and woke up “screaming” in the night after he returned home.

Arcand described the heartbreak affected families face as they wait for the coroner to release their loved ones.

“So we can actually spend a couple more days with them before we lay them to rest,” Arcand said.

“That’s our next journey,” he said.

Arcand said a GoFundMe has been launched to help Bonnie’s family.

Saskatchewan remained under a civil emergency alert Wednesday morning as the hunt for Myles Sanderson, the prime suspect in the James Smith Cree Nation Mass stabbing incident continued.

The intensive search for Myles Sanderson and his brother Damien began Sunday morning after reports of multiple stabbings on James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon, Sask. began pouring into police.

On Monday, RCMP found Damien’s body in a grassy area on the First Nation. He appeared to have died from injuries that did not seem to be self-inflicted.

–This is a developing story. More details come. 

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