A beloved veteran described as a “hero”, an Elder who has been an addictions counsellor, a mother of five and a widower who spends his days volunteering are among the 10 victims of Sunday’s deadly knife attack in western Canada.
As the hunt for the surviving suspect entered its fifth day, police in the province of Saskatchewan named the victims of Sunday’s stabbing rampagetheir ages ranging from 23 to 78 years old.
Police said they would not release the identity or age of those injured, but confirmed a young teenager was injured among the 18.
The victims were named:
Thomas Burns, 23
Carol Burns, 46
Gregory Burns, 28
Lydia Gloria Burns, 61
Bonnie Burns, 48
Earl Burns, 66
Lana Head, 49
Christian head, 54 years old
Robert Sanderson, 49
Wesley Petterson, 78
All of the victims were residents of the James Smith Cree Nation, an Indigenous community, except for Petterson who lived in the nearby village of Weldon in northern Saskatchewan.
The list does not include Damien Sanderson, a suspect in the attack whose body was found on Monday. Her brother, Myles Sanderson, remains at large and faces murder charges.
The attack left thousands in mourning for their friends, neighbors and family.
But in the days that followed, the victims were also remembered as heroes of their community, some of whom fought hard to protect others when the attack began early Sunday morning, and others whose life was taken while serving their community.
“My brother Earl Burns was a true hero. He fought to the death to protect his family,” Deborah McLean told local media.
Lydia Gloria Burns, who was working as an addiction counselor, was responding to a crisis call when she was killed.
“She died helping people. And we have to pick up this torch and carry it,” his brother, Darryl Burns, says Postmedia.
The tragic events in the province also drew attention to the country’s parole board after the media reported on Sanderson’s long criminal history. Parole papers released Tuesday showed Sanderson had 59 convictions over 20 years, including for domestic assault, assault with a weapon and attacking a police officer.
On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said he was “extremely concerned” following reports that the country’s parole board had granted Sanderson statutory release after serving two-thirds of his sentence despite fears that he might reoffend. He was serving a federal sentence of four years and four months for assault, assault with a weapon and assault on a police officer.
“I am assured that the Parole Board of Canada will investigate this decision. I think the review process starts there, but it certainly doesn’t end there,” Mendicino told reporters.
Police continued their search on Wednesday, operating with less certainty where Sanderson might be. Until recently, they had assumed he was taking refuge in Regina, the provincial capital. An alleged sighting on Tuesday sent panic to James Smith’s Cree Nation as police rushed, but RCMP later issued an alert saying his whereabouts were “unknown.”