Tragedy at a Sask. First Nation, a high profile amber alert, cattle killed by lightning and a discussion on provincial autonomy. These were just some of the stories from a high profile year for news in Saskatchewan.
Here is the rundown of CTV Regina’s top stories of 2022.
TRAGEDY AT JAMES SMITH CREE NATION AND WELDON, SASK.
Darryl Burns, brother of victim Gloria Burns, shares an embrace during a Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations event where leaders provided statements about the mass stabbing incident that happened at James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask., at James Smith Cree Nation, Sask., on Thursday, September 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu
The First Nations community in northern Saskatchewan was rocked in the early morning hours of Sept. 4, 2022. By daybreak, 11 people would be dead, with 18 more injured.
The mass stabbing at James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon was followed by an intensive, three day, province-wide manhunt for Myles Sanderson, who was eventually found to be the sole perpetrator of one of the worst mass-murders in Saskatchewan’s history.
Sanderson would be arrested following a pursuit with RCMP near Crystal Springs, approximately 132 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
After being taken into custody, Sanderson went into medical distress and was transported by paramedics to hospital.
He would be pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Following the attack, leaders from across Canada declared their support for James Smith as the community mourned.
Following the tragedy, the Government of Saskatchewan announced more resources for the province’s Warrant Enforcement and Suppression Teams (WEST), as well as a new “Saskatchewan Marshal’s Service”, set to be in operation by 2026.
Death inquests into the 11 victims of the attack (which included Sanderson’s own brother, Damien) were announced in the weeks following the tragedy. Hearings are set to get underway after the police investigation into the killings is completed.
The jury for the hearings will be composed entirely of Indigenous persons.
The tragedy, the three-day manhunt as well as the fallout from the attack and its effects on the tight knit First Nation put Saskatchewan in the international spotlight.
MAN ABDUCTS CHILD TO PREVENT COVID-19 IMMUNIZATION
RCMP issued a Canada-wide warrant for 52-year-old Michael Gordon Jackson on Jan. 21, 2022. (Supplied: RCMP)
An abduction revolving around a father not wanting his child to be vaccinated against COVID-19 made headlines in early 2022.
Michael Gordon Jackson was arrested on an abduction charge on Feb. 24, after he refused to return his daughter to her mother, Mariecar Latina Jackson, on the day they agreed upon.
Mariecar, who had full custody of their daughter, claimed Jackson took the child because he did not want her to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Between Nov. 10, 2021 and Feb. 22, 2022, Mariecar had no contact with her daughter except for a single phone call on Nov. 21.
The three-month long search for Mariecar’s daughter ended in Vernon, B.C. on Feb. 24 when RCMP found and arrested Jackson and reunited Mariecar with her daughter.
Jackson was subject to a Canada wide warrant in connection to the abduction.
AMBER ALERT: MANHUNT FOR BENJAMIN MARTIN MOORE
Benjamin Martin Moore is seen in this photo provided by Regina police.
An Amber Alert was released across the province in early August after two children were reported missing.
The suspect, a man with a history of sexual offences against children and vulnerable persons.
The manhunt for 50-year-old Benjamin Martin Moore took place from Aug. 8 to Aug. 10, when Moore, along with his common law spouse, were arrested in Sturgis, S.D.
The two children were located unharmed and returned to their “rightful” custodian following the arrest, according to RCMP.
During the search, Amber Alerts were active across the prairies, as well as both North and South Dakota.
Following the arrest, U.S authorities stated that Moore would be facing possible charges of illegal border crossing and kidnapping.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed that Moore, the two children and their mother crossed into the United States illegally through a barbed wire fence near the Turner Point of Entry in Montana.
CONTINUED DISCOVERIES OF GROUND DISTURBANCES ON SASK. FIRST NATIONS
The Keeseekoose First Nation sign is seen in this undated photo. (Source: Keeseekoose First Nation/www.keeseekoosefn.com)
The discovery of potential unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools in Saskatchewan continued through the early months of 2022.
Keeseekoose First Nation reported 54 ground disturbances believed to be unmarked graves in early February.
While George Gordon First Nation announced in April that 14 possible burial sites were found during a ground radar search earlier in the year.
The discoveries followed larger announcements in Kamloops, B.C, Marieval, Sask., Brandon, Man. and Cranbrook, B.C in 2021.
The initial discoveries have kicked off years of analysis and work for the affected First Nations across Canada.
In the case of George Gordon First Nation, it will likely be a 10-year process, according to Sarah Longman, the chair of the George Gordon First Nation IRS Cemetery Committee.
“You can imagine we’re dealing with 100-plus years of history of the residential school here in George Gordon,” Longman explained.
“So there’s a lot of work and a lot of area to cover to find what we’re looking for.”
SASKATCHEWAN FIRST ACT AND ‘PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY’
Premier Scott Moe speaks to the media at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Nov. 9, 2022.
The Government of Saskatchewan enlisted former and current MLAs to lead in-house meetings regarding Saskatchewan’s “provincial autonomy.”
The meetings, held across the province in mid 2022, were focused on consulting with residents who had an interest in Saskatchewan “exercising its provincial autonomy.”
The efforts were overseen by current Sask Party MLA Lyle Stewart and Allan Kerpan, a former MLA and MP with ties to the Maverick Party and the Wexit movement.
The meetings eventually led to the introduction of the Saskatchewan First Act to the provincial legislature in November.
The act seeks to define the province’s “exclusive jurisdiction” over its natural resources and economic future, according to the government.
The act is intended to create the framework to “define, address and quantify economic harm,” caused by federal policies.
If passed, the bill will amend Saskatchewan’s constitutional jurisdiction, numerate core provincial powers and create an independent economic tribunal.
The bill passed its second reading in late November. The legislation will undergo more debate before it’s voted on in the spring sitting of the legislature.
Alongside the act, the government also seeks to maintain greater control over immigration to Saskatchewan as well as gain the ability to collect its own corporate income tax.
The Government of Saskatchewan received criticism from First Nations in the province, claiming the act violates inherent treaty rights of First Nations.
Several Chiefs within the FSIN threatened to exercise all measures to stop the legislation from passing.
The FSIN equated the Sask. First Act to other damaging pieces of legislation such as the 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreement and the federal government’s 1969 White Paper, which proposed the elimination of Indian Status and The Indian Act.
SASK. REMOVES PROOF OF VACCINATION TO APPEASE TRUCKERS
The crowd in front of the legislature was in the hundreds for most of the afternoon. (Allison Bamford/CTV News Regina)
In the face of anti-COVID-19 vaccination protests as part of the “Freedom Convoy,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced an end to the province’s proof of vaccination policies.
The announcement came on Jan. 29, in the days leading up to the Freedom Convoy’s occupation of downtown Ottawa, which would last until late February.
“My government supports your call to end the cross border ban on unvaccinated truckers,” Moe said in his message to the protestors.
“And it is why, in the not too-distant future, our government will be ending our proof of negative test/proof of vaccination policy in Saskatchewan.”
Throughout the letter, the premier praised “every Saskatchewan Canadian trucker, farmer, and individual that has contributed to keeping our communities operating over the last two years.” However, Moe also encouraged those who weren’t vaccinated to get their shots to “prevent serious illness.”
“I will continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated because I do not want any of you to get seriously ill,” the statement read.
COLIN THATCHER INVITED TO THRONE SPEECH
Colin Thatcher, former MLA of Saskatchewan and convicted murderer, walks out of the chamber after the speech from the throne at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu
The Government of Saskatchewan received intense scrutiny and criticism following the 2022 Throne Speech after it was discovered that former Saskatchewan MLA and convicted murderer Colin Thatcher attended the event at the invitation of Sask Party MLA Lyle Stewart.
Thatcher, who was convicted of killing his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson in 1984, entered politics in 1975 as a Liberal MLA and later served as Saskatchewan’s Minister of Energy from 1982 to 1983.
Thatcher resigned as Minister of Energy on Jan. 17, 1983, citing family and financial reasons.
After divorcing in 1980, Thatcher and Wilson engaged in a custody battle over their three youngest children in the years following.
Wilson was found beaten and shot to death in the garage of her Regina home on Jan. 21, 1983.
Thatcher was arrested and charged after a 15-month investigation. He was found guilty of first degree murder and spent 22 years behind bars.
Thatcher won the right to apply for early parole in 2003 and was released in 2006.
The appearance of a convicted murderer at a throne speech that included added emphasis on law enforcement was widely derided and criticised.
Members of the government, including Premier Scott Moe, refused to apologize for Thatcher’s appearance, claiming it was an individual invitation sent by a single member of the legislature, not an invite from the government as a whole.
However, several days later the premier apologized, saying the government has to lead on issues of interpersonal violence.
“We all have to be leaders each and every day when it comes to stopping these violent acts. This is even more important when it comes to our provincial government,” Moe told reporters.
As a result of the incident, Lyle Stewart was relieved of his duties as Legislative Secretary to the premier responsible for provincial economic autonomy.
$500 AFFORDABILITY CHEQUES RELEASED
The Saskatchewan Legislative Building is seen in this file photo.
Affordability and inflation remained the issues that were top of mind for both provincial and federal lawmakers over the course of 2022.
The debate in Saskatchewan seemed to peak around the provincial government’s release of their $500 affordability cheques.
The affordability measures went to all residents who filed a tax return in Saskatchewan for the 2021 tax year.
The Saskatchewan NDP criticized the release of the cheques, pointing out that the relief was not targeted to those who needed it most, such as single parents and elderly residents on fixed incomes.
Affordability cheques being sent to dead Saskatchewan residents was also reported during the rollout.
Families noted confusion when they were told by the government to bring the intended recipient’s death certificate to their bank to cash the cheques regardless.
In response to the incidents, the provincial government explained that there were bound to be mistakes in the distribution of cheques given the speed at which they were released.
“There is no perfect database we can access as government and we decided that the tax system was probably the most current and reliable database we could use,” Donna Harpauer, Minister of Finance, told reporters on Nov. 17.
All affordability cheques are set to be distributed by early January, according to the Government of Saskatchewan.
SASK. FAMILY LOSES NEARLY 30 CATTLE TO LIGHTNING STRIKE
The Briere family has lost 28 cattle after a storm hit their farm located in southwest Saskatchewan over the weekend. (Submitted by Chelsey Briere)
A farming family in southwest Saskatchewan was left reeling both emotionally and financially after 28 of their cattle were lost after being struck by lightning.
The Briere family are fourth generation farmers, located near Mankota, Sask. approximately 200 kilometres southwest of Moose Jaw.
Following a serious thunderstorm, the lost cattle were found by Glen Briere’s brother-in-law, who was checking in on the animals while Glen and his wife Darla were out of town.
There were 14 cows, 13 calves and one herd sire lost in the incident. All of the cattle were found along a single fence on Briere’s pasture.
“It was Friday night when that storm we had had very severe lightning,” Glen said. “[The lightning] most definitely hit the fence.”
The loss of 28 cattle in one incident was a massive financial loss for the Brieres, who had an 80 head herd before the accident.
Following the incident, Glen and Darla began working to clean up the aftermath. Briere’s daughter Chesley said the pledges of the support from the surrounding community was touching to her family.
“Dad’s phone has been ringing off the hook with people calling and offering different things and just saying how they support us and are here for us if we need anything,” Chelsey said.
“It’s been really nice to have that.”
SASK. MAN WINS $70 MILLION ON LOTTERY
Dale McEwan accepts his prize of $70 Million after winning the April 1 Lotto Max. (Donovan Maess / CTV News)
A Regina man won big in 2022, coming home with $70 million after winning the Lotto Max jackpot.
Dale McEwan’s win made history as the largest in the western Canada lottery region’s had ever recorded.
He bought his ticket in Dumore, Alta. and after an extensive verification process, his win was confirmed.
“I can’t even describe it,” said McEwen. “Dreaming about winning and actually winning are two very different feelings. You think you know what it would feel like, but when it’s in your hands, your mind will not stop and you can’t even sleep.”
McEwan said he plans to use his winnings to help family, do some travelling and get some upgrades.
“We both work hard and enjoy what we do,” said McEwan’s partner, Christie.
“It’s more of a relief for the future.”
VEHICLE REGISTERED TO SASK. PREMIER IMPOUNDED IN B.C
A vehicle registered to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was impounded in Vancouver on March, 10, 2022 after the 28-year-old driver failed a roadside sobriety test.
According to Vancouver police, a Chevrolet Silverado with Saskatchewan plates was stopped by officers just before 1 a.m. after it allegedly ran a red light.
Police conducted an impaired driving investigation that ultimately led to the 28-year-old man, who had a Saskatchewan driver’s license, failing a roadside sobriety test.
Vancouver police did not confirm the name of the driver as no criminal charges have been laid.
Police did confirm the driver was issued an automatic 90-day suspension under the Motor Vehicle Act and the vehicle was impounded for 30 days.
The Office of the Premier did confirm the vehicle was registered in Moe’s name and said in a statement following the incident that the premier “will not be commenting further on a personal matter.”
Moe was in Saskatchewan at the time of the incident.