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Big River First Nation alleged hit-and-run drunk driver headed to pretrial PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:46

Morin's court files will move from Prince Albert Provincial Court to the Court of Queen's Bench. File photo.

The man accused of drunk driving in a Big River First Nation hit and run is going to pretrial in the fall.

The collision involved a group of five children, most of whom sustained minor injuries, but an 11-year-old girl was seriously injured and needed to be taken to hospital by air ambulance.

Colt Morin, 20, was denied bail last week after both the Crown and defence made arguments that laid out the preliminary evidence from the April 12 collision.

At that time, lawyer Mary McAuley said she anticipates a lengthy trial where she will raise Charter issues to dispute whether a number of statements were provided voluntarily and the identification of Morin as the driver.

Morin has elected to face trial by judge alone at Prince Albert Court of Queen's Bench, but a trial date has yet to be set.

He will face a trial for separate past charges in Whitefish circuit point court in mid-June.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:08
 
Honouring ceremonies a part of FSIN Spring Assembly’s opening day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 14:23

Chief Louis Taypotat shakes hands during an honour ceremony at the assembly. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

Wednesday morning started with a pipe ceremony and grand entry to welcome the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations spring assembly at the Senator Allen Bird gym in Prince Albert.

It was a packed gym with hundreds of people present for opening remarks from people like FSIN Senator Ted Quewezance. He spoke to a lot of controversial topics, including saying FSIN has gatekeepers “who partner with the federal government to limit services and implement the federal agenda, and that has to stop.”

Quewezance said he wants to “get off this administrative agenda and get a treaty-based political agenda for our organization.”

Also at the mic was recently elected NDP MLA Ryan Meili, who received a warm welcome. He said he's long been interested in social justice, inequalities, and health which led him to work as a doctor with northern communities.

Meili said he is committed to speaking about Indigenous people in legislature, something he said the Sask. Party hasn't done, adding that the party’s recent “austerity” budget has furthered the social divides between First Nations and the rest of the province.

Also on a special honour ceremony for PAGC Grand Chief Ron Michel, who is retiring before the next election in October, and for Chief Louis Taypotat for his years of service.

Michel had previously announced his retirement, and on Wednesday elaborated the reasons why, that he “had two close calls, in 2000 and 2010 of cancer and heart problems. Today I thank the Lord for getting me through.”

Taypotat looked back at his years as chief, in which he fought and won jurisdiction for the Painted Hand Casino in order to create employment for his people.

He said the push for sovereignty is important, as is supporting each other.

“Ron and I will be around if somebody needs help,” he said.

Later on Wednesday there’s a dense agenda including resolutions for a chief political task force on child welfare and suicide prevention strategy.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:35
 
La Loche victim impact statements seek answers from shooter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 10:54

The shooter's lawyer Aaron Fox speaks outside court on May 16, 2017. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

The question of “why” a La Loche high school student shot 11 people, killing four last January is haunting a number of his victims and their families.

The former student, who was 17 at the time and is now an adult, is at a sentencing hearing in Meadow Lake this week after earlier pleading guilty to attempted murder and murder in the school/mass shooting.

The Crown prosecutor is seeking an adult sentence, which was addressed by at least one victim impact statement read out in court. The La Loche Community Safety Board’s members wrote and signed their names to a community-based victim impact statement, saying “the shooter needs to be held accountable for his actions” and they fear the justice system will leave them feeling re-victimized.

“We are tired of violence” in our community, they wrote.

“The shooter knew what he was doing… he did not act like a youth.”

On Tuesday, victim impact statements from the parents of Adam Wood, students at the Dene Building, administrative staff at the Dene Building, and others detailed the devastating impacts of the shooting.

The scene of the school shooting pictured on Jan. 26, 2016. File photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

A number of video statements from female high school students whose names can’t be used due to their age, were recorded in April – a year and two months after the shooting - at the school itself. The girls described post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, persistent nightmares, jumping at loud sudden noises, and depression becoming a part of their daily life since Jan. 22, 2016.

“Now it’s like hitting hard I guess. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, like there’s something wrong with me,” said one girl who was in the school during the shooting and who was friends with victim Drayden Fontaine, 13. She added she doesn’t trust many people to speak to about these issues, and said they need guidance and help, but she doesn’t know what kind.

“I feel like I have no feelings anymore. I just feel sad, angry and depressed,” she said.

Another girl was in the classroom when 24-year-old teacher’s aide Christie Montgrand was shot in the back, said what scared her most at the end of the day was thinking she would never see her friends again. Montgrand is recovering from her wounds.

“I think about the shooting every day. In some way I think about it,” the girl said. “I feel like everybody’s just ignoring it.”

Another video statement came from Tracy Lemaigre, who was working, covering from someone in the front office after the lunch hour, when the offender entered the school. Video surveillance showed the shooter repeatedly returned to the commons area near that office throughout his spree through the school.

Lemaigre witnessed teacher Adam Wood’s acts, which included calling 911, before he was shot. “Adam was brave,” she said.

Only a door separated her from the second close-up shot the offender took before continuing on through the school.

Lemaigre remembered being separated from her phone while she huddled behind a closed door until the RCMP came. She said she had received a text from her son asking if she was okay, and because she couldn’t respond, the “whole time he thought I was shot too.”

She said he later told her he was prepared to run out of class and look for her if she hadn’t sent a quick text saying “yes son my son I’m okay” when she got her phone.

“I just want to know why he (the offender) did it. I just want to find out why. I’ll probably never get the answer,” she said.

“I want to know how he feels towards it.”

Andrea Freeman, a teacher who has since moved from La Loche, wrote that she heard educational assistant Marie Janvier pleading with the shooter before he acted, and said he made a decision to keep shooting.

“His lack of empathy and mercy makes me want to throw up every time I think about it,” she wrote.

Freemon wrote she is haunted by thoughts of how if she’d been in a different hallway when shots rang out, she could have been among the dead.

Wood’s father Edward Wood wrote “without knowing the why, I struggle with understanding the reason for my son’s death.”

He said he was a strong, spiritually-led Christian before Adam’s death but has not yet come to terms with the acts that took his son’s life.

The devastating effects of the shooting are clear, but the cause – the “why” – is still unclear.

Outside court, the offender’s lawyer Aaron Fox spoke to that, saying psychiatrist and psychologist reports, and other evidence “will help address the why.

“But these aren’t simple questions. As much as we’d love to think we could find a real easy answer, there’s a real obvious answer, we heard rumours about some of the things that might have been behind it,” he said, referring to comments about the offender facing bullying in school.

“There’s not a one-sentence answer to that question of why. So I think the best you can say is you’re going to look at a multitude of factors and draw your conclusions as to why this might have happened.”

He said the offender’s voice and perspective has already been heard to some extent in court, as some of portions of the agreed statement of facts “because he was the only one who would have been able to provide those facts.”

One of these facts includes Dayne Fontaine, 17, begging ”don’t shoot me” when the offender pointed a rifle at him before killing him. Fox said the offender’s voice will be heard from in a number of ways, including psych reports that came after interviews with the offender and lengthy offender interviews with police.

He pointed out the onus is on the Crown to prove the accused should be sentenced as an adult. The judge’s decision on that is some ways down the road, as there are eight more days scheduled in court for arguments which will lay out the circumstances and effects of the shooting. The second week of arguments is scheduled for mid-June.

Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang said victims would be reading their own victim impact statements in court on Wednesday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 16:34
 
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