The parole board, which ordered the release of ex-convict Myles Sanderson, has come under fire from Canadian officials, as a community mourns.
Sanderson, 32, and his brother Damien are charged with killing 10 people and injuring 18 others in the attacks that spread through the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve and nearby Regina.
Canadian police searched a fourth day on Wednesday for the remaining suspect after Damien’s body was found near the attacks on Monday, and police are investigating whether his brother killed him.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) issued an alert on Tuesday about “a possible sighting” of the surviving brother at the James Smith Cree Nation Tribal Reserve, urging residents to stay indoors and be vigilant.
Hours later, however, RCMP said their investigation had determined the suspect was elsewhere, although his whereabouts were unknown and the public was urged to exercise caution.
As the Saskatchewan community grappled with the deadly stabbing rampage, many blamed rampant drug and alcohol use on the reservation, which they linked to repeated government failures over many years.
Sanderson, has 59 criminal convictions, according to parole documents.
The parole board, which ordered the release of ex-con Myles Sanderson (right) who ‘stabbed 10 people to death and injured 18’ along with his brother Damien (left), found dead shortly afterwards the rampage, was criticized by Canadian officials.
An RCMP armored vehicle (right) drives past a police roadblock set up on the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan
He was serving a four-year and four-month sentence for charges of assault with a weapon, assault on a peace officer and robbery when he was released.
Public Safety Minister Mendicino said the parole board told him there would be an investigation into his assessment of Myles Sanderson.
“I want to know the reasons for the decision” to release him, he said.
“I am extremely concerned about what happened here.”
Many of his past crimes happened while he was drunk, and he told parole officers that substance use had driven him insane.
He had been wanted for a parole violation since May.
“The drug problem and the alcohol problem on these reservations are out of control,” said Ivor Wayne Burns, whose sister was killed in the weekend bombings.
“We have deaths and we asked before anything was done.”
Damien Sanderson was found dead in a grassy area of the reserve the day after the attack.
Police said they are investigating whether the younger sibling may have killed his sibling and possibly suffered injuries that required medical attention.
Authorities have not offered any possible motive for the attacks. Police said some victims appeared to have been targeted, while others were apparently random
The reservation, with a population of about 1,900, takes its name from its chief, who signed a land agreement with the Canadian Crown and other tribes in 1876, according to its website.
More tribal members live off the reservation, for about 3,400 members in total.
Like many Canadian Aboriginal communities, it has been marked by a dark history.
As the Saskatchewan community grapples with the deadly stabbing rampage, many have blamed rampant drug and alcohol use on the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve.
Canadian law enforcement surrounded a residence on the James Smith Cree First Nation reserve as they searched for suspects in the stabbing
Law enforcement guards a roadblock set up on the James Smith Cree First Nation where Sanderson and his brother Damien went on a stabbing rampage
From the 19th century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children in Canada were torn from their families and placed in government-funded Christian residential schools.
The goal was to Christianize them and assimilate them into mainstream society, which previous Canadian governments considered superior.
Indigenous leaders blame the legacy of abuse and isolation in these schools for the current epidemic rates of alcohol and drug addiction on Canadian reservations.
“This is the destruction we face when harmful illicit drugs invade our communities, and we call on all authorities to follow the instructions of Chiefs and Councils and their members to create safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
The parole board cited the intergenerational impacts of residential schools, saying it may have contributed to Sanderson’s criminal past.
It was unclear, however, whether brothers or family members attended the schools.
Myles Sanderson had a long criminal past.
His childhood was marked by abuse, neglect and substance abuse and led to a “cycle of substance abuse, seeking negative peers and violent behavior”, according to parole documents.
He lived between his father’s house in a city and his grandparents’ house on a reservation. There was violence and abuse in both households, he said.
Sanderson started drinking and smoking marijuana around age 12 to cope with problems, the document says. Cocaine followed soon after.
Parole papers say he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house in July 2017 while she was out with friends, punched a hole in a bathroom door while his two children hid in a bathtub and threw a block of cement at a vehicle parked outside.
He got into a fight days later at a store, threatening to kill an employee and burn down his parents’ house, documents show.
In November, he threatened an accomplice to rob a fast food restaurant by hitting him in the head with a gun and stomping on his head.
He then stood guard during the flight.
In April 2018 he stabbed two men with a fork while drinking and knocked someone unconscious.
The decision to release Sanderson was questioned and the parole board announced that it would carry out a full investigation into the case.
Damien’s body was found near the bombings on Monday and police are investigating whether his brother killed him
He twice got into trouble in jail for contraband before being released in August 2021 on statutory release. But he got into trouble that year and his release was changed for not being honest with his parole officer about continuing what he admitted was a “difficult” relationship with his wife from do.
Myles Sanderson said his childhood “normalized substance abuse and violence”.
But Myles Sanderson said he had “stayed sober, got a job helping an elder, arranged for a therapist to deal with domestic violence and other issues”.
And in February, the board rescinded the suspensions, while adding conditions to limit and monitor contact with her common-law partner and children.
The parole documents also stated that he was not to have any relationship – intimate or non-sexual – with women unless he first obtained written permission from his parole officer.
Sanderson received a statutory release from prison in the summer of last year.
He was revoked after he failed to contact his parole supervisor, but the board decided not to reprimand him.
“The board is of the view that you will not pose an undue risk to the company if you are released on statutory release,” he said.
In May, a Crime Stoppers bulletin was issued for Sanderson, warning that he was unlawfully at large.
Sharna Sugarman, who ran a GoFundMe for victims, questioned the parole board for releasing him and why Sanderson was still at large so many months after he was found to be “unlawfully at large”.
“It’s just glaring to me,” said Sugarman, a counselor who worked in the community in 2010 and 2011 and counted Gloria Lydia Burns among her clients.
“If they claim they were looking for it, well, you weren’t looking that hard.”
Menicino, Canada’s public safety minister, said he wanted “to know if any mistakes were made in the (conditional release) process”.
“It has to be an independent review,” he said.