Ottawa to spend $1.2M to replace and repair James Smith Cree Nation homes after mass stabbings

The federal government is to spend $1.2 million to repair and replace homes damaged in a stabbing attack in Saskatchewan nearly three months ago.

Homes became crime scenes after 11 people died and 18 were injured in the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon in the September 4 attacks.

Myles Sanderson, the 32-year-old suspect in the attacks, later died in police custody.

Repairs should be done next month

Indigenous Services Canada said $750,000 will be used to replace, repair and restore homes damaged in the massacre. Repairs are expected to be completed by mid-December, the department said in an email.

Chief Wally Burns said four of the homes affected cannot be repaired. Some of the funding will be used to replace homes that are ready to move in, he said, but it will take some time before they are habitable.

« The housing is there, » Burns said Monday at a First Nation news conference. « The passage from here to there, it takes a long time. »

From left, Peter Chapman Band Chief Robert Head, James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stand in front of the grave of one of the victims of the attack in James Smith’s Cree Nation stabbing on Monday. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press)

Indigenous Services Canada said 16 homes had been cleaned at an expected cost of $203,000. This covers the cleaning of 14 homes on the reserve, one in Weldon and one in Wakaw.

An additional $200,000 was provided to replace furniture and $40,000 was set aside for a housing coordinator.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the government would support families still waiting to return home.

« Building a house cannot be done overnight, unfortunately, » she said on Monday.

PM announces funds for wellness center

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the First Nation of about 1,900 people, located about 170 kilometers northeast of Saskatoon, on Monday and announced more than $40 million over the next six years to build a well-being and reassign a pavilion. He also announced funding for community safety projects and addiction treatment.

Since the tragedy, Indigenous leaders have spoken of the connection between housing and health.

Burns said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened housing overcrowding on the First Nation. Combined with the rampage of stabbings, it left many people anxious, he said.

« It’s not healthy, » he said.


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