The leadership of James Smith Cree Nation is speaking out about the release of a report looking at how Corrections Services Canada (CSC) and the National Parole Board of Canada handled the statutory release of Myles Sanderson.

The report, which was released Tuesday, is making some recommendations, but overall found there was nothing staff at either organization could have done to prevent the mass stabbing in September of 2022.

Speaking to media on behalf of James Smith leadership Wednesday afternoon over Zoom, Peter Chapman Band Chief Robert Head said the First Nation was disappointed they were not part of the process in regards to putting the report together.

“We wanted to be at the table to provide our own side of the story so that they would have a more fulfilled report,” he said.

Head explained First Nations people are overrepresented in the country’s correctional system and added in order for that the change for the better First Nations need to be part of crafting policy solutions.

Along with not being part of the process, Head said James Smith would have like to have seen the investigation carried out in a different way. Specifically for the process to be one which was independent from both organizations which had their actions under review.

“What we needed to do in this case was have a outside independent third (party) do this report,” said Head.

Going forward Head said James Smith would like to see First Nations being involved with the release process when it involves one of their members. The Peter Chapman Band leader said in the whole process James Smith seemed to be the last one getting any information in regards to Sanderson, which he said needs to change going forward.

“Their allowing people to repopulate our nation who are possibly dangerous offenders, that’s very disappointing as well,” he said.

Head said he found it hard to believe that Sanderson was considered to be a candidate for statutory release, which is automatically granted when an offender in the federal system has served two thirds of their sentence. The parole board does have the power to order someone serve their entire sentence under certain circumstances, but it does not often make the decision to do this. Head said he felt Sanderson should have been kept in custody for the remainder of his sentence.

“Some people I don’t think are ready for statutory release,” he said.

When asked by MBC Radio News about the reaction of James Smith membership to the report, Head said leadership still need to present the report to the membership. Head explained it might be awhile before this happens as the First Nation is gearing up to hold elections.

“We have to present this report to the membership and that has to be done at a future date,” he said.

(Top Photo: Peter Chapman Band Chief Robert Head speaking to media at the coroner’s inquest which looked in to the mass stabbing in Melfort. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)