The stabbing rampage in Saskatchewan left a trail of heartbreak and longing, as friends and family of the 10 people killed in the attacks must now mourn their loved ones. Below are some of the ways the victims – nine from the James Smith Cree Nation and one from nearby Weldon, Sask. – are being remembered by their communities.
Bonnie Goodvoice Burns, 48
Bonnie Burns was a mother of four and foster parent of two children. Her family remembers her as a matriarch who died while protecting her kids.
Her brother, Mark Arcand, said during a news conference that he was told Bonnie was attacked outside her home when she went out to defend her 28-year-old son, Gregory Burns, who was stabbed during the rampage shortly before she was. Her three younger sons, aged 13 and under, were also at home at the time.
Mr. Arcand is a First Nations leader in Saskatchewan. During the news conference last week, he asked reporters not to identify him that way, but rather as a person grieving for members of his immediate family. “She was protecting her son, she was protecting her three little boys. This is why she’s a hero. She’s a true matriarch,” Mr. Arcand said at the news conference alongside Bonnie’s husband, Brian Burns, and her father, Chuck Goodvoice. “Mama bear took care of her cubs.”
Gregory Burns, 28
Gregory Burns is remembered by family and friends as a leader in the James Smith Cree Nation, where he helped to build houses. He was known to people in the community by the nickname “Jonesy,” because he ate like the food-obsessed Archie Comics character Jughead Jones, Mr. Arcand said.
Gregory had two children, with a third on the way, Mr. Arcand said, and helped his parents raise his younger siblings. “He was a great kid. He worked in the community, he built houses, he did whatever he could for his family in trying to help his mom and his dad, and trying to take care of his three brothers. Gregory’s life was cut short, but as a family we’re going to carry on.”
A GoFundMe has been created by family to support the young children of both Bonnie and Gregory.
Lydia Gloria Burns, 61
Lydia Gloria Burns, known to friends and family as Gloria, was a front-line worker who served on the community crisis response team for the James Smith Cree Nation. She was killed responding to a crisis call to help Bonnie and Gregory Burns after they were attacked, her brother Darryl Burns said during a news conference at the First Nation last Thursday.
Darryl said Gloria was always there to help people in need. A main rule for the response team is never to go to a call alone, which Darryl said Gloria did in this case because she knew people were in urgent need. Gloria also worked as an addictions counsellor in the community.
“A friend needed her help, and that’s the kind of person my sister was. Whoever needed help, she would go,” he said.
Carol Burns, 46
Carol Burns will be remembered for her positive outlook on life, said Colin Perret, who identified himself on social media as having worked with Carol at SaskTel in Prince Albert, Sask. He wrote that she was visiting her two sons on James Smith Cree Nation over the long weekend. One of them, Thomas Burns, was also killed.
Mr. Perret and other former colleagues reminisced on Facebook about their time with Carol, remembering her as a kind and caring person, with a sense of humour that was her “most outstanding quality.”
“She had a sunny disposition and an infectious laugh. Carol was the type of person who made work fun for those around her without even trying,” Mr. Perret said in his post. “She had an immense love of family and was proud to be Indigenous.”
Thomas Burns, 23
Thomas Burns was the youngest person killed in the mass stabbing.
A friend, Thomasina Ann, recalled the friendly banter he used in messages and video calls, and the good conversations they shared while working together at a deli. “You were so funny and kind, and you didn’t deserve this at all,” she wrote on Facebook.
A joint funeral service was held for Thomas and his mother, Carol, at James Smith Cree Nation.
Earl Burns Sr., 66
Earl Burns Sr. was the father-in-law of Myles Sanderson, one of the suspects. His daughter was Mr. Sanderson’s common-law partner. Earl’s family and community remember him as a military veteran with a big heart.
The Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association said Earl was a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. The Veterans Transition Network wrote that he “gave his life protecting his family.”
Garnet Eyahpaise, Earl’s brother-in-law, said he had participated in the rodeo circuit in the 1970s, following in his father’s footsteps and riding both bareback and saddleback. Earl also liked to fish and play hockey. “All his famous catches are mounted on his wall,” his brother-in-law said.
Lana Head, 49
Messages have been pouring in on Lana Head’s Facebook page since she died in the attack.
The mother of two daughters is remembered as a caring person by friends and family. “You truly were an amazing person and had such a sweet innocent demeanour with such laughter,” her friend Anne Day wrote. “Prayers on your journey my friend.”
Another friend of Lana’s, Teresa Stewart, wrote: “In total disbelief that you were taken from this world in that horror. I will miss our chats and seeing your chipmunk cheek smile.”
Christian Head, 54
Christian Head was the father of Skye Sanderson, wife of the other suspect, Damien Sanderson. The Canadian Press reported that Christian’s posts on social media showed him to be a golfer and car enthusiast. He also posted about taking part in demolition derbies in the community. Members of a local group for the activity posted pictures of him and sent their condolences.
The were several photos of him on Facebook wearing orange shirts meant to honour children who had died in Canada’s residential schools.
A caption on one of his photos with two toddlers reads: “Papa Chick’s visitors for the day. Lots of fun teaching them to talk. Understanding them is the cutest and how they all communicate at this age – amazing. Listening is key.”
Robert Sanderson, 49
Friends and family mourned Robert Sanderson on social media, calling him an amazing man who took good care of his cats. In the past, Robert posted about his cooking and catering efforts on his Facebook page.
Robert’s daughter said in a Facebook post that his funeral was held last week. She added that her brother was one of the people seriously injured and in hospital after the attack.
Wesley Petterson, 78
Wesley Petterson was the only victim of the stabbing rampage who didn’t live on the James Smith Cree Nation. The resident of Weldon, Sask., was described by friends on social media as an “absolute gem.”
“He liked people to think he was grumpy, but truly had a heart of gold,” Kelly Taylor wrote on Facebook. “One of the most selfless, generous, and good hearted people you will ever meet. The world needs more people like Wes.”
Ruby Works, 42, said she’d known Wesley since she was a little girl: “When I got the news, I collapsed. I hit my knees right to the ground. I couldn’t breathe.” She described him as a pillar of the community who ran a coffee morning for seniors on Sundays. “Wes would take the shirt off his back and give it to you.”
With a report from Alanna Smith
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