Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Saskatchewan Stabbing

Posted 09/20/2022 by Mattie Brightwell

One suspect in stabbing found dead in open field, the other still on the loose.  photo by David Stobbe 

A mass stabbing in the James Smith Cree Nation leaves ten dead and 18 injured – Canada’s most deadly mass stabbing in the country’s history.

On September 3, 2022, two brothers began what is now known as Canada’s largest mass stabbing in history, killing ten people and injuring 18 across 13 different locations in the Saskatchewan Province. All of the murders took place in the indigenous community of James Smith Cree Nation.

Myles and Damien Sanderson were reported breaking into the homes of their victims and stabbing whomever was found inside. It’s reported by the RCMP that while some of the victims may have been targeted, a majority of those attacked were done so at random, seemingly with no direct motive. After the first few attacks, local police and the RCMP advised citizens to stay indoors, shelter in place, not pick up hitchhikers, and to report any suspicious people and behavior to emergency services. 

Despite several sightings, the Sanderson brothers remained on the run until Damien, the older of the two, was found dead in a field on the early afternoon of September 4th. Damien passed from wounds that were not self-inflicted, leading police to suspect that his brother had killed him. However, they were not able to legally confirm this and police have not released a statement regarding the death at the time. 

After the death of his brother, Myles remained on the run for another three days. It was thought that he likely sustained injuries at the time of Damien’s death, the extent of which were unknown. Police warned the public that Sanderson had been wanted for violent crimes in the past, and while they suspected that he was injured at the time, he was still considered extremely violent and unsafe to approach. The parents of the Sanderson brothers even stepped forward to plead with Myles to end his spree. Their mother begged for Myles to turn himself into the police, and Sanderson’s father added, “I don’t want nobody hurt anymore…please, my son. I love you. Turn yourself in. Be safe.” (Cbc News, Canada)

It was only three days after the death of his brother that police announced Sanderson had finally been caught at 3:30pm on Wednesday, September 7th, on a highway outside of the town of Rosthern, Saskatchewan. 

Four hours afterwards, though, it was announced by assistant commissioner Rhonda Blackmore of the Mounted Police during a press conference that Sanderson had gone into medical distress shortly after being taken into police custody and had passed away due to such. While it’s been rumored that Sanderson’s death had to do with some form of self-inflicted injury, it cannot be confirmed. Blackmore would not comment on the cause of Sanderson’s passing, but she did state that an investigation would be opened into the deaths of both suspects. 

Among those killed were parents, including a mother of two, a first responder, and a 78 year old, the brothers’ oldest victim.  The named victims include: Thomas Burns, age 23, Carol Burns, 46, Gregory Burns, 28, Lydia Gloria Burns, 61, Bonnie Burns, 48, Earl Burns, 66, Lana Head, 49, Christian Head, 54, Robert Sanderson, 49 and Wesley Petterson, 78.

Petterson, the oldest of the victims, was described by locals of Weldon, a quiet farm town, as a “lovely man who was devoted to his community.” His neighbor, Ruby Works stated, “He didn’t deserve this. Both communities are destroyed. All lives are shattered.”

Burns was a former first responder who was murdered while attending to an inital call for help. Her brother, Darryl Burns, commented on her killing, saying that “she  died helping people. And we have to pick up that torch and carry it.”

Several other beloved members of the community were murdered in the attacks, and their loved ones, neighbors, and fellow community members have devoted the last few weeks to keeping their memories alive. 

Finally, after four days, Canada’s largest and most deadly mass stabbing in its country’s history came to an end, leaving ten victims dead, and 18 injured. Canada continues reeling from this tragedy, and the victims of the stabbing will be missed and remembered by their community.