Canada stabbings will be probed in two public inquests

People hold candles during a vigil for the stabbing attack victims in Saskatchewan.Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

People hold candles during a vigil for the stabbing attack victims in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, on 7 September

Two public probes will be held into a stabbing spree in Canada that left 10 people dead and 19 injured.

Coroners in the province of Saskatchewan said the inquests will separately investigate the deaths of the victims and one of the suspects.

Suspect Myles Sanderson, 32, died shortly after police arrested him on 7 September.

Police have not yet released his cause of death, though the chief coroner ruled out blunt force trauma.

Two Canadian news outlets, quoting multiple sources, have said Myles consumed pills shortly before his arrest and died from a drug overdose.

His official cause of death won’t be released publicly until the inquests in early 2023, said chief coroner Clive Weighill.

The mass killings took place over Canada’s Labour Day weekend on 4 September, sparking a major police search for two suspects: brothers Damien and Myles Sanderson.

Damien was found dead the following day. Myles remained at large for four days before he was arrested by the RCMP – Canada’s federal police – following a high-speed chase.

He was taken to a hospital shortly after, where he was pronounced dead.

At a press conference following his arrest, RCMP commanding officer Rhonda Blackmore said police attempted “all life-saving measures” available on Myles after he appeared to be in medical distress.

Questions have since swirled on how he died in police custody.

At the time, Officer Blackmore would not say if officers attempted CPR or used Narcan, an overdose reversal medication, on Myles.

In a statement on 15 September, Officer Blackmore addressed those who accused the police of failing to uphold their duty of care, saying the accusations are “extremely premature” as Myles’ cause of death has not yet been determined.

“Complex investigations of this nature take time and we look forward to providing further details once they have been confirmed,” she said.

Most of those killed in the rampage – and the suspects themselves – are from James Smith Cree Nation, an indigenous community in Saskatchewan.

Chief coroner Weighill said the goal of the public inquests is to unpack the circumstances surrounding the victims’ deaths and develop recommendations to prevent a similar tragedy from taking place..

One will focus on the victims, while the other will focus on the circumstances surrounding Myles’ arrest and subsequent death.

“With the suspect deceased, there will not be a public criminal trial,” Mr Weighill said.

“Without a public hearing of the facts, it will leave many questions unanswered from the families involved and the public”, he added.

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