Former partner of Myles Sanderson hopes people get closure from James Smith Cree Nation inquest

Eleven people died and another 17 injured during the attack in 2022.

The Kerry Vickar Centre in Melfort, Sask., is being readied for an inquest that is sure to bring out emotions for families with ties to a stabbing rampage that left 11 people dead and another 17 wounded.

It was on Sept. 4, 2022 in nearby James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon that Myles Sanderson changed dozens of lives.

One of them, his former partner, Vanessa Burns. Her father, Earle Burnes, was killed by Sanderson.

“It’s like a void. So we’ve accepted it and we’re ready to move on and I guess move on,” Burns told APTN News. “I know his siblings and my grandfather are really hurt and yeah, I just pray for them that they move on. Find strength in this.”

Ten people were killed in James Smith Cree Nation including Sanderson’s brother. One died in Weldon.

Sanderson, 32, died in police custody a few days after the killings.

Burns said her healing journey took some time to get started.

“I reached out in December 2022 to the therapist that was given to us. Mental health was offered to us so I reached out,” she said.

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The inquest is scheduled to start on Jan. 15 and go for two weeks. It is to establish the events leading up to the deaths, who died and when and where each person was killed.

Sanderson, who had a record of violent assaults, had received statutory release earlier that year. The killings raised questions about why he was released and how he managed to remain free in the months leading up to the attacks.

A second inquest focusing on Sanderson’s death is scheduled in February. Public inquests are mandatory in Saskatchewan when a person dies in police custody.

Burns hopes the inquest helps everyone on their healing journey.

“A lot of people want their questions answered and I hope they get closure and start their healing as well,” she said.

The inquest starts at 10 a.m.

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