5 appear in court in Megan Gallagher homicide case, family overwhelmed

‘Lateral violence’” comes from colonialism says Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

accused

FSIN Vice Chief Aly Bear hugs Megan Gallagher's aunt, Wendy, at the Saskatoon courthouse. Photo: Leanne Sanders/APTN.


Five people accused in the Megan Gallagher case in Saskatoon had court hearings today and all of them had their cases adjourned to later in October.

Among those having their case put off is Roderick William Sutherland, 44, who had his first-degree murder charge read in court for the first time. He was previously charged with indignity to human remains.

Police also have a warrant out for Summer-Sky Henry, 24, who is also charged with first-degree murder and is currently at large.

Outside the provincial courthouse, Gallagher’s father Brian told reporters they’re adjusting to the fact that delays are part of the legal process.

“We’re starting to learn that it’s just part of the process. Just is what it is. It’s part of the concept of innocent until proven guilty. That’s an important piece of our legal system,” Gallagher said.

Upon hearing another person had been charged with murder yesterday, he didn’t have an immediate reaction.

“Sometimes it takes a while for these things to sink in, and as you process it through the day, it’s exhausting, it’s challenging.  It breaks your heart, it breaks your soul, it takes you to some pretty dark places sometimes,” Gallagher said.

“You try not to go there, and try to stay positive and remember all of the people that are supporting us.”

The police said Wednesday it believes they’ve now identified everyone involved in Gallagher’s death and don’t foresee further charges.

A total of nine people are facing charges in connection with the 30-year-old’s 2020 disappearance and killing.

“It’s overwhelming when you think of the numbers, the last day we talked about numbers and the number that disturbs me the most is one woman and nine people so far. It’s not acceptable by any standards.” Gallagher said.

The family is awaiting autopsy results which were expected yesterday.

Gallagher repeated his call to the community that it’s important to victim’s families that people come forward when they know something and he commends the ones who have spoken up to allow investigators to lay charges.

FSIN Vice Chair Aly Bear has frequently been on hand to support the Gallagher family at court. She addressed the issue of lateral violence affecting Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

Bear said cases keep happening where inmates are released to communities after serving their sentences and then re-offending.

Many of the accused in the Gallagher case were allegedly arrested in correctional centers while serving sentences for other offences. All nine are Indigenous.

“This continues to happen where people are released from the criminal justice system after they’re affiliated with gangs or drugs and so forth, and there’s no healing process for them,” Bear said. “And they’re released back into our communities where they continue to create violence. We need to think of where the roots of that come from as well because it’s easy for people to point their finger and say hey they’re doing it to themselves, they’re doing it to each other.

“But, where does that come from? We just had Orange Shirt Day, we’re trying to recognize and acknowledge where the trauma comes from. And it comes from residential schools, it comes from colonialism. And so colonial violence has manifested itself into our communities as lateral violence. And now we see the lateral violence and it’s here every day and we’re living it.”

Bear said the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility to First Nations people because of the imposition of the Indian Act and the band council system.

“We don’t have the funds to make sure that our people are being taken care of once they’re released and then they go and continue because when they’re incarcerated-they’re being tortured in there,” Bear said.

“It’s not about rehabilitation, what it’s supposed to be about. Our people are locked up and they’re treated like animals and then they’re released and now we have our own people hurting each other.”

Leanne has a certificate in broadcasting and has more than 12 years of radio news experience, both as an anchor and reporter in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Métis journalist is a passionate writer and born storyteller and loves to connect with people and learn about their life experiences.

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