The following is a finding of the Canada Parole Board. : “It is the Board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society,” the panel concluded, releasing Sanderson from custody, “and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”
Who, you may ask, is Sanderson? The man responsible for the Saskatchewan massacres. Unfortunately and tragically, the dead are multiple. At this time of the 17 admitted to hospital, seven are released, seven in stable condition. That leaves three and Sanderson has not yet been captured.
More of the decision of the parole board is included: If there was a recipe for this tragedy, the ingredients started simmering two decades ago, the parole board document suggests. It includes, in equal parts, drubs, violence, despair, neglect and ‘intergenerational impacts of residential schools” Here is more from the findings. “You … said that your regular use of cocaine, marijuana and hard alcohol would make you ‘lose your mind’ and that you can be easily angered when drunk, but are a different person when sober.”
In his mid-teens, he became a father but has had no contact with the child — one of six children mentioned by the parole board.
“Your criminal offending commenced at a young age and has continued with no significant breaks for almost two decades,” the report states.
As an adult, Sanderson’s propensity for violent crime reached dangerous and dizzying heights as he racked up 59 convictions, the most recent sampling of which were laid out for the board’s consideration.”
This man fathered six children – what chance do any of these children have?
It goes on. The report notes that “Sanderson participated in programs and activities for convicts, while enrolling in self-help courses and receiving an employment certificate. As an Indigenous offender, he participated in a counselling program intended to help him reconnect with Indigenous culture and traditional values as well as a “high intensity program” that included dozens of sessions and ceremonies intended to help offenders control their emotions, improve their social skills and develop goals and healing plans.
In February 2021, Sanderson’s security classification was reduced to minimum. He was transferred to his correctional facility’s healing lodge and then in August 2021 was given statutory release, akin to parole but automatically granted after two-thirds of a sentence is served. His conditions were that he stay away from alcohol and drugs; that he follow treatment plans and programs to deal with substance abuse and violence; that he stay away from four unnamed victims; and that he have no relationships (sexual or otherwise) with women without the permission of his parole officer.
Sanderson got out, but four months later he had slipped off the radar. In May 2022, he stopped reporting to his parole officer and was being sought by police.
Five months on, with 11 people dead — in addition to suspected injuries Sanderson has himself suffered — the James Smith Cree Nation in mourning and the country on edge, the search continues.”
I have a theory to explain the Canadian Parole Board’s actions. They felt sorry for him and who would not, in some ways. But they released him to the community that lacked the resources to deal with him in any way, or in any measure. And he, in many ways the poor guy, went on to exercise Freud’s repetition compulsion on innocents, fine upstanding members of the community. What is the solution? There isn’t one I fear, not one I can think of anyway and I am known as a problem solver and compassionate. Hopefully his six children will not have children. But there is absolutely no guarantee to even that.
But, even in the midst of sorrow, it is possible to find a sliver of happiness. I have a cousin that lives in Regina, have not been in touch with her for months and months, and then only sporadically. Although I did visit she and her wonderful husband in 2015 (I think). Photo of me in winter clothes in Regina shall conclude this blog. Hearing of the risk I fired off an email and here is the exchange between us. The subject line of the email was: Stay in You Two.
Me: I am living in Edmonton now and heard about the horrific stabbings in Saskatchewan and am learning that the guys may still be in Regina. So I say, along with Trudeau, I say stay in ssnd lock, not lick the doors. Now if you do not and the killing takes place on Dryburgh Cres. It just might help the sale of my book. But since it is not written yet you might as well stay in with the door locked. Your crazy cousin, Alexis
She (her response has been edited) Hey, Crazy! We have had our doors locked since all the warnings came out. I locked both the screen doors and storm doors, front and back, plus have the alarm system armed. Just as a side note, our doors are always locked, whether we are home or not. Once, when the kids were young, I noticed someone outside trying the doorknob when I looked up the stairs from the basement. The door was locked, but it scared me enough to be sure that they remain locked at all times. Safety first, and all that. Sorry, but I probably won’t be helping your as yet unwritten book sales with headlines from Dryburgh Crescent.
Me: (also edited) Glad you are safe and sound. One guy dead, not heard about the other. I am super safe in Edmonton on the top floor of a very very safe building. Loving it here. Talked about the horrors of the killings on my blog and will add more as I have done more research. So it did some good these killings as you and I are in touch. Crazily yours, Cousin Alexis
A sense of humour is inherited – my cousin definitely has one. Our correspondence, some reported in the unfinished book, is hilarious. We were hardly close cousins – the first and last time I saw her was during my visit to Regina. I got from Edmonton to regina on a Greyhound bus . What was I thinking? I clearly was not. My brother paid for my air fare back to Edmonton, as I recall.
My father had seven brothers and all but Uncle Dave had children. But there was absolutely no Dryburgh family connection. At one time it was felt by many that my book and my presence would bring the family together, It did not happen – not the book (as yet) and not the connected family. We all have our tragedies but none loom as large as those in the Indigenous community.
Yesterday had a conversation with my Yellow cab taxi driver. He was black, from Texas.
Me: It is all rather fascinating. Canadians are not prejudiced toward blacks nor people from other countries. Well, not in Edmonton anyway. But the prejudice shown towards the Indigenous of Canadians is massive, pervasive and a total blight. I cannot understand this.
He: I know, I see that as well. I feel no prejudice what so ever, far different from the USA.
But this is TOTALLY unbelievable. When I got out of the cab I asked for his hame. He said Mohammed. I looked at him with shock and incongruity.
Me: So, are you a Muslim too? Were you born a Muslim? I never experienced discrimination in any form until I became a Muslim. Me being lily white and all. But suddenly I knew how black must feel – terrified of the police, their neighbors, the whole community. It was horrible.
He: So you went to the Middle East? To the UAE?
Me: Well yeah. Did not experience any discrimination or prejudice because I was a Muslim woman. But if I dared speak out, tell the truth about the country I would have been jailed, and never heard from again. I shut my mouth, got back to Canada. I am SO happy to be here.
He: Yes I am too!! I wish I could talk to you more but I have another call.
I journeyed to the Legislative library to read some newspaper accounts of the tragedy. The librarians escorted me the way to the dailies and later copied an article from the National Post. Sabrina Maddeaux wrote, adding a new and profound perspective.
“While the RCMP and police have released details about the two Sandersons, including their relationship to one another, drips and drops of information already paint the outlines of a picture so recognizable, it may as well be Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
We all know the violence that followed that fateful mean between Jesus and his disciples, and we also know the societal and policing failures that precede many mass murders. Yet, the continue to occur time and time again, sometimes resulting in inquisitions and hearings, bur rarely resulting in quantifiable change. Canada knows this all too well. Maddeux then spoke of the 2020 Nova Scotia attack that left 22 dead. “The signs were there had anybody cared to look long enough.” She ends powerfully. “Outside of any immediate physical risk when the public is denied details – as they continue to be in regard to the Nova Scotia shooting- it becomes more difficult for them to hold those in power to account and push for real change. Instead of patching the cracks that all these attacks to occur, we end up back on the hamster wheel of avertable violence.”
What is avertable? It means prevent or ward off (an undesirable occurrence).
It does no good to be consumed in misery, one must take care of oneself. Yesterday took care of myself, went to Winners making a few small purchases. I laughingly told folk:
Me: I am a winner, going to Winners to get some Winter clothes.
She: I like your attitude.
The speaker was a woman by the name of Helen from Grand Prairie later asking for and receiving a selfie of the two of us which shall be featured. I purchased a sweater and a great pair of shoes but then spied something essential, a frother which shall also be pictured. I am totally independent now. I can make a latte or a cappuccino at home – who needs Starbucks?
Then walked to Staples picked up a poster I had made. More about that later.