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‘We’re not hearing anything’: Norway House Cree Nation frustrated after RCMP taser non-verbal 16 year old boy

April 9, 2024

‘Nobody really knows what’s going on except for what the police are releasing,’ says Joseph Brightnose.

APTN News: Members of Norway House Cree Nation gathered at the local RCMP detachment and demanded answers as to why a non-verbal 16-year-old boy who uses a walker was tased.

“He is a voiceless being. He can’t stand for himself, so we’re here to be the voices for him,” said Joseph Brightnose who worked with the boy. “We’re here to stand for him.”

According to a statement from police, Norway House RCMP received a call on Saturday around 12:10 a.m. about a violent assault in progress at a Kinosao Sipi Cree Nation residence. A suspect was threatening to stab a pre-teen girl.

Officers located the 16-year-old male suspect standing outside the residence. According to the RCMP, the boy was instructed to show his hands but refused, instead, produced a large knife. The RCMP then tased him. It’s not clear why the boy had a knife.

Police said when they took the boy into custody, officers realized he had mobility issues. The release states that he was escorted and safely placed in a police vehicle and taken to the detachment.

In an email sent on Monday, RCMP told APTN National News that three officers were on the scene and no charges have been laid.

The RCMP also confirmed in an email the boy was held in custody for 11 to 12 hours.

Norway House Cree Nation is located 800 km north of Winnipeg.

Family and community members are calling for more transparency.

Brightnose said he worked as an educational assistant with the 16-year-old.

“(The boy) is definitely not somebody that you could picture as a threat even in any circumstances,” Brightnose told APTN, “He can’t speak. He’s non-verbal, he can say yes or no and he can relay information through grunts and facial expressions.”

He described the treatment of the boy by the RCMP as “unjustified.”

“There’s so much hearsay around this situation, and we’re not hearing anything from our leaders, we’re not hearing anything from our RCMP, we’re not hearing anything from people that know what happened,” he said. “That’s what’s frustrating the family, that’s what’s frustrating me, that’s what’s frustrating the community. Nobody really knows what’s going on except for what the police are releasing.”

In an email sent to APTN on Tuesday, RCMP maintained the accuracy of the original media release, stating “(i)t is factual and based on the emergency call we received and our response at the residence”.

Brightnose said the community will continue to push for more answers from the RCMP and support from Norway House Cree Nation leadership.

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