Editor’s Note: This story was updated July 20.
RCMP in Battleford say Adam Lesmeister, 46, of Battleford was arrested on July 19 and charged with one count of assault.
The charge comes from an attack on a First Nations man on private property in Battleford, Sask., in front of his 6-year-old daughter.
On Sunday night around 7 p.m., Colby Tootoosis was returning a trailer he’d borrowed from his friends when three men approached, demanding items from him.
A video circulating on social media after being posted by Eleanore Sunchild, the owner of the yard shows Tootoosis talking to three men.
One of them, climbs over the back of a pickup Tootoosis is working around and appears to strike him screaming, “Where are my f**king pants? Where are they?
Tootoosis, who is on the ground, responds, “I don’t know man, I don’t live here, sir.”
The man then walks around and appears to be looking for his bag.
They order Tootoosis to “get somebody out here.”
The three men eventually leave and Tootoosis is seen bent over.
Colby’s brother, Mylan Tootoosis said Colby was held down by his braid.
Eleanore Sunchild is the lawyer who supported the Boushie and Tootoosis families during the Gerald Stanley trial. Stanley is the Saskatchewan farmer who was acquitted of killing Colten Boushie, a 22 year old man from Red Pheasant First Nation.
According to Mylan Tootoosis, Sunchild needed protection because of her involvement in the case.
Tootoosis said Sunchild told him she has provided the security footage to the RCMP. Tootoosis said he’s surprised by the support the family has received from the community.
“It’s not hard to find racism here and ultimately, because of that, it’s not hard to find racists,” Tootoosis said. “One of the amazing things with this incident is that I expected to wake up the next day to have hate mail similar to what was going on during the Gerald Stanley trial.”
“That wasn’t the case, we actually had extended friends and family in the Battleford community exposing these three individuals very rapidly and you know, saying who they were.”
According to the RCMP in Saskatchewan, they don’t know who did this.
“Charges have not been laid at this time and North Battleford RCMP are continuing their investigation into this incident, including working to identify and locate the suspects involved.”
Tootoosis said the family is supporting his brother who suffered blackened eyes and injury to his nose and his brother’s six-year-old daughter who was inside the truck when the attack happened.
“It was a violent act and unfortunately,” he said. “How many of our people have experienced trauma similar to this in terms of colonial violence and oppression? I mean one settler kid, I really hope we get to throw the book at them.”
In an emailed media release, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) called on RCMP to lay charges.
“This was an unprovoked racial attack by residents of Battelford who assaulted a respected First Nation male with leadership and Treaty advocacy and who still does amazing work for First Nation communities,” said Vice-Chief Dutch Lerat in the release. “FSIN is demanding that the RCMP lay all appropriate charges in this matter.”
Lesmeister will appear in North Battleford Provincial Court on Aug. 22.