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James Smith Cree Nation members losing faith on third day of stabbing inquest

“The justice system has never been kind to us native people, so do we have faith in this justice system? Do we have faith in this inquest? I don’t think we do.”

Darryl Burns and James Smith Cree Nation band members said on Wednesday that they are losing faith in the provincial coroner’s inquest, despite it being just the third day.

Click to play video: 'Sask. RCMP describe warrant process at stabbing inquest'

Sask. RCMP describe warrant process at stabbing inquest

The inquest, one of the largest in Canadian history, is supposed to answer lingering questions about the 11 people left dead from Myles Sanderson’s stabbing rampage on James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon on Sept. 4, 2022.

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“This investigation is so rushed,” Burns said. “For us, there is a lot of stuff that is missing.”

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Wednesday was a difficult day for the families of the murder victims, as responding RCMP officers described the crime scenes where their loved ones perished.

Stewart Head, who lost family members to the killings, feels his questions for the witnesses aren’t being answered.

“Nobody wants to answer my questions. They aren’t being answered properly and are just passing the buck.”

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Head has been asking questions about the event on behalf of victim Christian Head, but many were asked to be reserved for other witnesses testifying over the next few weeks of the inquest.

He said the inquest also brings up a lot of anger as he’s presented with evidence of the drug and addictions issues that grip his community.

Text messages between James Smith First Nation community members and Myles’ brother Damien positioned the brothers to be selling and picking up drugs in the community for several days before the murders.

“A lot of these guys come in and do their drug drop and they are gone,” Head said. “We are tied up. We can’t do anything.”

Head says police response times have increased greatly over the last 16 months. Now, if there is an incident in James Smith Cree Nation, officers arrive within three minutes.

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“They don’t fool around,” Head said. “Sometimes it’s downright scary when you see (officers) coming out fully armed. That’s the scary part — when they are all loaded up with their semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.”

Both Burns and Head believe James Smith Cree Nation needs RCMP officers stationed in the community 24 hours a day.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Head, who was part of the First Nation’s local security team. “We are not trained in mental health, in addictions, we aren’t trained as drug enforcement.”

There is a wellness team located in the community but Burns said many of the calls are too dangerous to attend without an RCMP officer.

Several members of the community, including Burns and Head, are trying to get the First Nation on board to fight the consistent drug use and trafficking among the band members.

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