Police name stabbing victims in Canada

A beloved veteran described as a “hero,” an elder who served as an addictions counselor, a mother of five and a widower who spent his days volunteering are among the 10 victims of Sunday’s deadly knife attack in western Canada.

As the manhunt for the surviving suspect entered its fifth day, police in the province of Saskatchewan named the victims of Sunday’s stabbing attack, with their ages ranging from 23 to 78.

The police force said it would not release the identities or ages of those injured, but confirmed that a young teenager was injured among the 18.

The victims were named as:

  • Thomas Burns, 23

  • Carol Burns, 46

  • Gregory Burns, 28

  • Lydia Gloria Burns, 61

  • Bonnie Burns, 48

  • Earl Burns, 66

  • Lana Head, 49

  • Christian Head, 54

  • Robert Sanderson, 49

  • Wesley Peterson, 78

All the victims were residents of the James Smith Cree Nation, an indigenous community, except for Petterson who lived in the neighboring village of Weldon in northern Saskatchewan.

The list does not include Damien Sanderson, a suspect in the attack whose body was found on Monday. His brother, Miles Sanderson, remains at large and faces murder charges.

The attack has left thousands of people grieving for friends, neighbors and relatives.

But in the days that followed, the victims were also remembered as heroes in their community, some of whom fought hard to protect others when the attack began early Sunday morning, and others whose lives were taken while serving their community.

“My brother Earl Burns was a true hero. He fought to the death to protect his family,” Deborah McLean told local media.

Lydia Gloria Burns, who worked as an addictions counselor, was responding to a crisis call when she was killed.

“He died helping people. And we have to pick up that torch and carry it,” her brother, Daryl Burns, told Postmedia.

Related: Fear and confusion as police widen search for stabbing suspects in Canada

The tragic events in the province have also focused attention on the country’s parole board after the media reported on Sanderson’s extensive criminal history. Parole documents released Tuesday showed Sanderson had 59 convictions over 20 years, including domestic assault, assault with a weapon and assault on a police officer.

On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Marco Medicino said he was “extremely concerned” after reports the country’s parole board released Sanderson after serving two-thirds of his sentence, despite concerns he might reoffend. He was serving four years and four months for assault, assault with a weapon and assault on a police officer.

“I am sure the Parole Board of Canada will conduct an investigation into this decision. I think the process for a review starts there, but it certainly doesn’t end there,” Medicino told reporters.

On Wednesday, police continued their investigation, attempting with less certainty where Sanderson might be. Until recently he was believed to be taking refuge in Regina, the provincial capital. A suspicious sighting on Tuesday brought fresh panic to the James Smith Cree Nation as police rushed in, but RCMP later issued a warning that his whereabouts were “unknown.”

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