(January 17, 2024 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON.) – As the public inquiry into the tragic events at James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby community of Weldon, Saskatchewan begin this week, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Cindy Woodhouse offers condolences and deepest sympathies to the affected families and communities.
“On September 4, 2022, a senseless tragedy shook the communities of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, resulting in the loss of 11 lives and leaving 18 others wounded,” said National Chief Cindy Woodhouse. “As those affected continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones, by listening to the stories and reliving the pain, is an extremely heavy burden. We acknowledge the courage and strength of James Smith Cree Nation, the community of Weldon, as they come together in this time of reflection and healing. On behalf of the AFN, our hearts go out to every individual, First Nation, and all impacted by this devastating occurrence.”
National Chief Woodhouse also renewed the Assembly’s call for the federal government to provide equitable funding for First Nations police services in Canada.
“The current footprint of Canada’s First Nations Policing Program is grossly underfunded and impedes First Nations who wish to exercise their right to self-determination by providing police services for their Nations. First Nations police services are necessary for the safety and security of First Nations. As such, First Nations police services must be recognized as essential and fully funded in the upcoming federal budget.”
Support is available for those affected by this tragedy. If you need someone to talk to, the Hope for Wellness Helpline offers support to all Indigenous Peoples. Counsellors are available by phone or online chat. This service is available in English and French, and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.
Senior Communications Advisor
AFN National Chief’s Office (NCO)
Senior Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations