Parliamentary Committee Notes: Saskatchewan Event
Date: March 9, 2023
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: CPB, Public Safety
On October 6th Correctional Service Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) announced it had convened a National Joint Board of Investigation into the horrific tragedy that occurred on the James SmithCree Nation and in Weldon, Saskatchewan, on September 4, 2022.
- The Government offers its deepest sympathies to all of those affected by this horrible tragedy.
- We also express our sincere gratitude to first responders and law enforcement, First Nations’ leaders, the Province of Saskatchewan and all those who have provided support to the people, families and communities who have been victimized.
- We are continuing to listen to First Nations in those communities and their leaders to determine how we can continue to work together to heal and rebuild following this tragic situation.
- Following the tragedy, the Government granted Saskatchewan’s request to increase the strength of their current law enforcement, approving the urgent deployment and mobilization of RCMP members to support policing efforts.
- Public Safety officials continue to work to fully understand the events that led up to this horrible event.
- To this end, the Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Service of Canada are conducting a joint investigation into this incident, which is currently under way.
- The National Joint Board of Investigation is comprised of six members who all have experience and expertise in the criminal justice system, and one independent observer. This includes two external community co-chairs while four of those who are part of this investigation are Indigenous.
- The investigation will examine all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the conditional release and Parole Board of Canada decisions in the case of the federal offender involved, including whether policies and protocols were followed, and identify any recommendations and corrective measures, as needed.
- Once complete, the findings of the investigation will be shared publicly as well as any measures that will be implemented, in response to any recommendations.
- The Board of Investigation is working to complete their work as soon as possible, while not impeding other investigations or the Coroner’s inquests.
- Ultimately, the Government will take any action deemed necessary to prevent such acts of mass violence and keep communities safe. We must learn from this and work to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
On September 4, 2022, a violent incident occurred in James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, Saskatchewan which resulted in the stabbing deaths of 10 victims, and the injuries of many others. Police undertook operations to apprehend two individuals identified as suspects. One of the suspects was found deceased on September 5, 2022, and the other was later apprehended by law enforcement on September 7, 2022, but later died in custody. One of the suspects in this event was a federal offender on statutory release in the community. At the time of the incident, this offender’s conditional release had been suspended and he was unlawfully at large.
Law Enforcement Response
The Honourable Christine Tell, Minister of Correction, Policing and Public Safety for Saskatchewan declared an Emergency and due to the urgency of the situation issued a verbal request to the RCMP Commissioner to deploy additional RCMP resources to support ongoing law enforcement efforts.
Under the Police Service Agreements, Article 9 provides a mechanism for temporarily accessing incremental resources to assist with police duties during an emergency or an event. Under Article 9, the Minister approved urgent deployment and mobilization of RCMP members to support policing efforts in the affected area/region until the resolution of incident. Under sub-article 9.3, the Minister’s approval is required to temporarily withdraw up to ten per cent of the members of the Provincial Police Services outside of Saskatchewan. In this case, the Province of Saskatchewan will be responsible for 100 per cent of the costs related to the deployment of any additional resources. The RCMP immediately agreed and began mobilizing outside resources to the Province in order to support policing efforts.
The First Nations and Inuit Policing Program
The First Nations and Inuit Policing Program is a contribution program that provides funding to support and enable supplemental policing services to First Nation and Inuit communities across Canada in addition to Provincial/Territorial policing. A Community Tripartite Agreement includes a contingent of RCMP police officers to provide dedicated policing to a First Nation or Inuit community that is intended to supplement the level of Provincial/Territorial police services provided to that community. James Smith Cree Nation does not receive funding for supplemental policing services through the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program.
Board of Investigation
On October 6th the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and Parole Board of Canada (PBC) convened a National Joint Board of Investigation (BOI) into the statutory release, community supervision and PBC decisions in the case of Myles Sanderson.
The National Joint BOI process is guided by requirements set out in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). It is an administrative investigation that will thoroughly analyze all of the facts and circumstances, including whether laws, policies and protocols were followed, and identify any recommendations and corrective measures, as needed. The PBC and the CSC are committed to publicly sharing the results of the investigation, and subsequently any corrective measures that will be implemented in response to its recommendations.
Pursuant to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), all federal offenders serving determinate sentences are entitled to statutory release from a federal penitentiary after serving two-thirds of their sentence, unless they are likely to commit a serious offence before the end of their sentence. Statutory release is mandated by subsection 127(1) of the CCRA, and is not by a decision made at the discretion of the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). Offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible for Statutory Release.
Statutory release requires federally sentenced offenders to serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under the supervision of CSC, and with certain conditions. As a form of conditional release, its purpose is to help offenders become law-abiding citizens by providing them with intervention, assistance, programs and necessary controls to minimize their risk. All offenders on conditional release must report a federal parole officer. Should an offender breach their release conditions, or should it be deemed necessary for the protection of society, an offender’s release can by suspended and they may ultimately be returned to a federal institution.
In terms of statutory releases during fiscal year 2019-2020, 92.4% of these releases did not result in a new conviction; 6.4% of statutory release supervision periods ended with a non-violent offence; and only 1.1% ended with a violent offence.
Prepared by: Darren Bell, Correctional Policy Unit, CPB (343) 572-3164
Approved by: Talal Dakalbab, SADM, CPB, (613) 852-1167
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