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Ottawa to spend $1.2 million to replace and repair homes after mass stabbing

JAMES SMITH CREE NATION — The federal government is to spend $1.2 million to repair and replace houses damaged during a mass stabbing in Saskatchewan nearly three months ago.
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In this image taken from video, Canadian law enforcement personnel surrounded a residence on the James Smith Cree First Nation reservation in Saskatchewan on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, as they search for a suspect in a series of stabbings. The federal government is to spend $1.2 million to repair and replace houses damaged during the stabbings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Robert Bumsted

JAMES SMITH CREE NATION — The federal government is to spend $1.2 million to repair and replace houses damaged during a mass stabbing in Saskatchewan nearly three months ago.

Houses became crime scenes after 11 people died and 18 were injured on the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon during the Sept. 4 attacks. 

Myles Sanderson, the 32-year-old suspect in the attacks, later died in police custody.

Indigenous Services Canada said $750,000 will be used for replacement, repairs and restoration of homes damaged during the massacre. The repairs are expected to be completed by mid-December, the department said in an email.

Chief Wally Burns has said four of the affected homes cannot be repaired. Some of the funding will be used for replacement ready-to-move homes, he said, but it will be some time before they are habitable. 

"The housing is there," Burns said Monday during a news conference on the First Nation. "The transition from here to there, it takes a long time.” 

Indigenous Services Canada said 16 homes have been cleaned at an expected cost of $203,000. That covers cleaning 14 homes on the reserve, one in Weldon and one in Wakaw. 

An additional $200,000 was provided to replace furniture and $40,000 was set aside for a housing co-ordinator.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the government will support families who are still waiting to return home. 

“Building a house can’t happen overnight, unfortunately," she said Monday. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the First Nation of about 1,900 people 170 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on Monday and announced $40 million over the next six years to build a wellness centre and repurpose a lodge. He also announced funding for community-based safety projects and treatments for substance abuse. 

Since the tragedy, Indigenous leaders have talked about how housing is connected to health. 

Burns said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened overcrowding in housing on the First Nation. Combined with the stabbing rampage, it's left a lot of people feeling anxiety, he said.

"That’s not healthy," he said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022. 

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

The Canadian Press

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