Six Members of One Family Are Among the Victims of Canada Mass Stabbing
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — There was Earl Burns, 66, a school bus driver on an Indigenous community, who, after being attacked in a stabbing rampage, managed to board his bus at his home and tried to drive into a village for help. But he died along the way and his bus veered off a gravel road. It remains in a ditch, a police cruiser beside it, covered in road dust.
Earl was one of six victims from one extended family — the Burns family, among them Gloria Burns, 61, who counseled people dealing with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions and who raised five adopted children as a single mother.
Some in the family were in their 20s, at the beginning of their adult lives. Others were older, enjoying their retirement.
On Wednesday, the authorities released the identities of the 10 victims of Sunday’s mass stabbing in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan, underlining the human cost of a horrific rampage that also left 18 injured. The killings in the bucolic and largely agricultural province have convulsed a country that likes to portray itself as a humanist role model for the world.
All but one of the victims lived on the James Smith Cree Nation, an Indigenous community. A member of the community whom the police have charged with some of the killings, Myles Sanderson, remains the target of a manhunt by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other forces. His brother Damien, who was a suspect, was also found on Monday stabbed to death on the reserve with injuries that the authorities said were not self inflicted.
The oldest, Wesley Petterson, 78, is the only victim who is not a member of the reserve. He ran a drop-in coffee house in the nearby village of Weldon. The former operator of that town’s long gone gas station, Mr. Petterson, also previously worked as a roofer. He was described by neighbors as a bird lover who had campaigned against the cutting of trees in the area and was a jovial fixture of their community.
A small floral memorial now sits outside his house at the dead end of a dusty street leading to a pair of abandoned, wooden grain elevators.
“This man did not deserve to die like this,” said Ruby Works, a friend, as she carried a bouquet of sunflowers to his memorial on Monday night. “It’s just so terrible. Nothing has happened here since 1965,” she said referring to the year when a police chase of two fugitives entered the town.
Ms. Works said that Mr. Petterson’s grandson hid in the basement during the attack.
A large white tent erected for a wake in memory of Gloria Burns sat in front of her brother Ivor’s house on Tuesday. As it flapped in a fierce wind, members of her family sat inside recalling their lost sister, who was one of the Indigenous community’s cultural leaders and conducted sweat lodge ceremonies and was the holder of one of the reserve’s ceremonial pipes.
Darryl, another of Gloria’s six siblings, said that she was killed while trying to help two other victims of the attack. The family held a healing circle and conducted traditional Cree ceremonies at the attack site on Sunday before her body was removed.
After a divorce, Darryl said, Gloria then adopted and raised five infant members of her family.
On Tuesday evening, the family said it was still unclear when her body would be released by the coroner.