Inquest into mass stabbing enters second week

The province is expected to provide information about how it responded to a mass stabbing on a Saskatchewan First Nation as a coroner’s inquest enters its second week. 

The inquest is scheduled to hear information today about the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the province’s warrant suppression team.

People enter the public coroner’s inquest in Melfort, Sask. on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. The province is expected to provide information about how it responded to a mass stabbing on a Saskatchewan First Nation as a coroner’s inquest enters its second week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Myles Sanderson killed 11 people and injured 17 others on James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon, on Sept. 4, 2022.

The 32-year-old died in police custody a few days later.

The first week first week of the inquest wrapped up with testimony from an RCMP profiler who said Sanderson had a list of grievances and was ready to kill anyone who got in his way. 

The inquest has heard Sanderson had a history of violence and incarceration.

Sanderson’s lengthy criminal history included 59 convictions as an adult. He was unlawfully at large at the time of the killings.

A second inquest focusing on his death is scheduled for February.

Criminal investigative psychologist Matt Logan told the inquest, taking place in Melfort, that Sanderson had many psychopathic traits.

Logan never met Sanderson and said he cannot make an official diagnosis. He relied on court and prison records, as well as community members.

He described Sanderson as having an unstable and abusive childhood. Sanderson struggled with alcohol addiction and did methamphetamine and cocaine. 

His common-law partner, Vanessa Burns, testified about 14 years of domestic violence by the father of her five children. The inquest heard how Sanderson attacked her on multiple occasions when she was pregnant with their children.

An overview of the massacre from RCMP said Sanderson had gone to the First Nation to sell cocaine. In the days before the killings he was causing chaos with his brother, Damien Sanderson. 

Damien Sanderson was the first to be killed. Staff Sgt. Carl Sesely, an RCMP criminal profiler, said it was because he got in his brother’s way.

Myles Sanderson then went door to door around the First Nation stabbing and killing people. Sesely said some people were targeted because Sanderson believed they were associated with a gang. Others got in the way of Sanderson’s “mission,” Sesely said. 

Family members of the victims say the inquest has been difficult. Deborah Burns, whose father Early Burns Sr. was among those killed, said it has been exhausting but she said it’s important to hear the information.

 “I feel like I am getting some answers to my questions,” she said Friday.

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