Background Content

Justice (25-42)

Saskatchewan RCMP presents responses to recommendations resulting from internal review process and Coroner’s Inquests relating to mass casualty homicides

June 6, 2024

NationTalk:The Saskatchewan RCMP responds to the recommendations resulting from the internal review process and coroners inquests relating to the mass casualty homicides that occurred at James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon, Saskatchewan, in September of 2022. See the website here.

The following statement was delivered by Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, on June 6, 2024, at a press conference held at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, SK.

Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us today.

Shortly after the mass casualty homicides occurred at James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon in September of 2022, I initiated an internal review of the RCMP’s response to this tragedy. I did this to ensure accountability and transparency to the people and communities we serve.

The review, through an assessment of specific objectives, sought to determine: whether lessons learned and recommendations that stemmed from past mass casualty events had been adopted; whether the RCMP’s response to this event was effective; and, to identify and make recommendations for improvements.

Alberta RCMP’s Office of Investigative Standards and Practices was tasked with providing an objective and thorough examination of the incident, focused primarily on the response of the RCMP, with an emphasis on the initial call for service, command structures that were used, public alerts, media relations, operational communications, victim care, overarching policy and pre-event intelligence. This process resulted in the identification of key areas where growth or improvements were needed as well as effective practices the RCMP employed during its response.

Included as part of this team was Jason Stonechild, the Executive Director of Justice for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and retired Deputy Police Chief of the Prince Albert Police Service. Mr. Stonechild’s roles were that of an independent observer; to act as a liaison with James Smith Cree Nation, Chakastaypasin, and Peter Chapman Nations; and, to provide cultural guidance to the Review Team.

At the recommendation of Mr. Stonechild, the Review Team engaged the tri-communities of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon – which included seeking their feedback about their observations of the RCMP response to the tragic events that occurred. Having the communities involved in this process was critical to understanding the relationship between them and the RCMP and how to best foster a spirit of collaboration on policing issues moving forward.

I’m appreciative to the Review Team and to the communities – and all those who were engaged – for the extensive work put into this process. The result was a thorough analysis of how we, as an organization, responded to the mass casualty homicides.

The team identified 36 recommendations to be considered – ways that we, as a police service, can improve our operations. The Saskatchewan RCMP has thoroughly reviewed the recommendations and have determined how we’ll address each one. The internal review report, including the findings and resulting recommendations and our responses to them, are now available on our public website.

Earlier this year, two Coroner’s Inquests were held in relation to the mass casualty homicides and the death of Myles Sanderson. There were a combined 14 recommendations directed to the RCMP as a result of those proceedings. We have considered and analyzed each one and have adjusted our processes accordingly. Our Criminal Operations Branch has formalized procedures and implemented training protocols where necessary. We have provided written responses to these recommendations – which are now published to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service website.

I know our officers and employees – not only those from Saskatchewan, but across Canada – spared no effort on September 4, 2022, and in the days following while searching for the suspect. Each and every one of them was doing everything they could to ensure the people of Saskatchewan were safe.

Despite the magnitude of the situation and the fact that things were unfolding rapidly and chaotically, it’s my opinion that the RCMP response and that of our partner emergency services was nothing short of outstanding. Simply put: we are humans working in unpredictable conditions and I will forever be proud of what our members and employees did in the face of such horrific circumstances.

We always welcome the opportunity to learn, adapt processes and make improvements where necessary to help ensure we’re able to provide the best service possible as your provincial police. I’m thankful to all the people, agencies and communities involved in these processes.

Our Criminal Operations Officer, Chief Superintendent Ted Munro, will provide more detail about how the Saskatchewan RCMP is addressing the recommendations and adjusting our operations.

As always, our thoughts remain with all those who continue to heal after this horrific tragedy…

Thank you.

The following statement was delivered by Saskatchewan RCMP Criminal Operations Officer, Chief Superintendent Teddy Munro, on Thursday, May 16, 2024, at a press conference held at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, SK.

Good morning.

The communities of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon were forever changed by the tragedy that unfolded in September, 2022.

The Saskatchewan RCMP – as a policing service – was also forever changed. Following any critical incident comes an opportunity for organizations to reflect, learn, and modernize.

The internal review report we are releasing today was not mandated. It was something our Commanding Officer initiated to identify where we, as a police service, could make improvements and we committed to releasing it publicly to ensure we’re being open and transparent with the public.

Saskatchewan RCMP officers from different units and areas of responsibility carefully reviewed and researched the recommendations that resulted, providing responses based on practicable application and implementation potential. It’s this collaborative approach that I’m incredibly proud of and was absolutely necessary – working together to make a greater impact on our crisis response and helping us be an operationally-strong and trusted police service.

And while many of our responses to the recommendations highlight specific areas for actionable improvement, it’s important for me to recognize that incredible work was already being done and processes were already in place prior to September, 2022, but perhaps were not formalized at that time.

I want to take a moment to thank our employees for their dedication to public safety. When the public is running away from danger, our officers are running towards it. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes as well – not only our officers ensuring they’re up to date with policies and training, but all the work done by those who support our folks with boots on the ground. It’s my hope that improvements highlighted within this review help ensure officer safety and help inform our many employees supporting the front line.

The RCMP is the provincial police service and the public expects us to be ready to respond when the next call comes in – regardless of what it is. This report, the recommendations and our responses help tell the story of how the RCMP is prepared and ready to serve Saskatchewan. We are committed to public safety, using the latest technology and equipment, continuous organizational improvement and modernization. We hope our responses and the follow-up we do to make improvements helps build further public trust and confidence in our organization.

I am extremely proud of our response and ability to adapt to a tragic and complex situation – and now we can also share with the communities we serve how we are committed to continuous improvement.

Thank you.

Click on the following link to read the full report: