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[World] Canada stabbings: Relatives identify 'random' victims of Saskatchewan attack

Darryl Burns holds a photo of his sister, GloriaImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Darryl Burns holds a photo of his sister, Gloria, a former first responder

A 62-year-old former first responder who was killed as she tried to help others and a kind-hearted 77-year-old widower have been identified as victims of a violent rampage in Canada that left 10 people dead and a nation in shock.

Locals described Wes Petterson as a "lovely" man who was devoted to his community in Weldon, a quiet farming town of about 200 people in Saskatchewan province.

Sunday's attacks left another 15 people with injuries of varying severity.

Victims were found in 13 locations in the remote indigenous community James Smith Cree Nation and nearby Weldon.

Neighbour Ruby Works said she had been left devastated by Mr Petterson's death.

"I couldn't even catch my breath," she told the Canadian broadcaster CBC, saying she was still in shock.

"If someone needed a hand, he helped. He was a kind-hearted man," Ms Works added about the man she had known since childhood and had looked on as an uncle.

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Watch: Deadly attack leaves residents in small town Canada afraid and mourning.

"He didn't deserve this," she said. "Both communities are destroyed. All lives are shattered."

Weldon resident Robert Rush described Mr Petterson as a gentle man who "wouldn't hurt a fly".

Mr Rush added that Mr Petterson's adult grandson had been in the basement at the time of the attack. "He stayed down there until they were gone," Mr Rush said.

Another of the deceased was identified by family members as 62-year-old Gloria Burns.

A former first responder, she had worked at the James Smith Cree Nation health clinic and her brother, Darryl Burns, said she "had devoted her life to helping people".

Gloria BurnsImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Gloria Burns had been a first responder and was killed while helping victims of the attack

Ms Burns was killed in the attack after responding to initial calls for aid and while trying to help others in her home, her brother said.

"For her to go into a situation like this where [she was] helping people, even though it cost her life ... that's who she was," Mr Burns told CBC.

"She died helping people. And we have to pick up that torch and carry it."

Ms Burns' nephew, Gregory Burns, 28, and her sister-in-law, Bonnie Goodvoice-Burns, were also killed.

Gregory's father and Bonnie's husband, Brian, wrote on Facebook: "It's hard when my boys cry at night for their mom."

Another victim, mother-of-two Lana Head, has been identified by her former partner, Michael Brett Burns.

He told local media that she had worked as a security guard at Northern Lights Casino and had also been a commissionaire officer.

The 49-year-old lived in James Smith Cree nation and leaves behind two daughters, Sable, 31, and Sage, 30. Just hours before the attack she had posted on social media that she had "so many good memories to cherish".

Friends and family paid tribute to Ms Head. In a post to her Facebook page, one friend recalled her "sweet demeanour and caring ways".

In a tribute to Ms Burns, Michael Brett Burns wrote that she will be "missed dearly".

"I just hurt and tonight I cry alone," he added.

Canadian police at the scene in James Smith Cree NationImage source, Reuters

The Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association also confirmed on Facebook that one of its members, Earl Burns, was one of the victims killed in the brutal attack.

"The SFNVA is sending out our most sincere condolences to the Burns Family on the loss of our Veteran late Earl Burns," the group wrote.

It noted that the veteran had been a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Mr Burns' son appeared to confirm his death late on Sunday evening, writing on Facebook that his "heart is broken".

Police are still identifying many of the victims and the manhunt for one of the suspects continued overnight.


First Nations: The basics

  • The term 'First Nation' is used to refer to indigenous communities in Canada that are neither Métis nor Inuit
  • Numerous First Nation communities enjoy a degree of self-government that can include decision-making powers on issues such as education, health and land management

Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson - one of the region's elected leaders - told the Regina Leader Post that everyone in the community had been affected.

"They were our relatives, friends. Mostly we're all related here, so it's pretty hard," Mr Sanderson said. "It's pretty horrific."

Indigenous rights groups in Canada have urged the federal government to provide support to the communities.

Darryl Burns echoed that call, telling reporters that the local community was in chaos as it tried to come to terms with the "massacre".

"I know deep down we need healing and forgiveness. That's one of the things my sister taught. And that's one of the things I will carry out in her name," he said.

A map of where the shooting took place