This past weekend marked one year since the mass stabbings on James Smith Cree Nation.
On Monday the First Nation’s leadership, who were joined by federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, hosted a media conference and offered remarks. In his brief statement, James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns thanked media for coming out to the event. The James Smith chief as well talked about the lingering impacts of colonialism on First Nations and the need for First Nations to develop their own systems moving forward.
“We want to look at our own system, our own Indian laws,” he said.
Burns added land based learning with Elders also needs to play an important role moving forward.
Yesterday, we gathered at James Smith Cree Nation on the first anniversary of an immense and tragic day for the community and Canada. pic.twitter.com/RFECnOOZSS
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) September 5, 2023
Peter Chapman Band Chief Robert Head acknowledged all of families who were impacted by the violence and thanked all of those who offered support and prayer to the First Nation. Head also touched on the impacts of colonialism which manifested itself through a number of government policies and helped to create the conditions which led to the violence.
“Over the years the government has put in policies and they’ve enacted legislation that put our people down and kept us under their thumb and under their foot,” he said.
The Peter Chapman Band leader said the healing process will be a lengthy one, which will involve those impacted receiving support like counselling along with ceremony, like sweat lodges and sun dances. Head added First Nations leaders need support as they work to improve the lives of their members.
“We’re trying to make the world better for our people each and everyday,” he said.
During his remarks Chakastaypasin Band Chief Calvin Sanderson took time to thank the people who came to help the First Nation on the day of the attacks, from the police to the coroner. Sanderson as well spoke about how tight knit the community is and how when someone passes away leadership works to support the family throughout the entire process.
“Each and everyone of us when someone passes away, we’re there, the leadership is there to send our condolences,” he said.
Sanderson said recent events like the traditional healing gathering have helped the nation’s membership by bringing forward many supports. He as well talked about the impact of illicit drugs in the community and called on the people bringing the drugs in to stop doing so.
“Stop doing that to our kids,” he said.
Minister Hajdu spoke about being in the community after the violence and meeting with impacted families and attending funerals. The minister as well talked about the country’s past colonial policies, which she said should never have been and added the federal government knows First Nations need support.
“The responsibility of the federal government and I think of Canadians is to wrap our arms around James Smith Cree Nation and to be there tangibly with the financial resources that the community needs for their plan,” she said.
(Top Photo: Minister Patty Hajdu speaks Monday at James Smith Cree Nation. Photo courtesy of Patt Hajdu X.)