The tragic death of a 10-year-old boy who was shot in Maskwacis has sent shock waves to the community, says the chief of the Samson Cree Nation.
“This is very much a shock, a shock to everyone, a shock to the community,” said Vernon Saddleback on Sunday.
“This has affected a lot of people in the community. I don’t care who you are, or what culture you come from, or where you live, when a child is lost in this manner, everyone gets effected.”
The RCMP have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old youth from Maskwacis following a death that was reported August 5.
At 4 a.m., Maskwacis RCMP received a 911 call about a gunshot in a residence. Responding members, with EMS, located a 10-year-old boy dead in the home. A youth was taken into custody and the major crimes unit was engaged to conduct the investigation.
Following an autopsy, the investigation led to a single charge of manslaughter with a firearm. The youth will be appearing in court on Sept. 2 in Wetaskiwin.
Neither the accused nor the victim will be named, police say.
“Due to the nature of the circumstances surrounding this extremely tragic incident, including the delicate ages of the people involved, we won’t be providing further details,” says Staff Sgt. Dwayne Moore, acting commander of the Maskwacis RCMP.
“Our focus is to continue to support the family and the community overall, which has been extremely impacted.”
Saddleback said the tragedy has prompted many community members to come up to him and talk about how upsetting the incident has been.
“And (they) cry,” he added.
His advice to people who are struggling with the incident is to go home and hug their children.
“It’s a tragedy you can’t fathom.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Saddleback says, all of society is struggling, as is Samson Cree Nation, citing the restrictions and the changes everyone has had to make.
“We have lost a lot of people this year. I don’t know if it’s COVID fatigue or what it is, but it’s not a good time,” he said, adding the average mortality rate in Samson community is more than 50 people per year.
But the community had lost more than 30 people in the first three months of 2020.
He encourages people to show support to each other and use the supports in place. The community has rolled out mobile mental health support, which are available to talk with those struggling in the wake of the incident, especially first responders.
Elders have also been asked to provide support to the community as well.
The chief’s message to the community is that of hope, of prayer and faith.
“Don’t give up, keep praying, we will get through this.”
“Regardless of what’s going on in the world, don’t give up on prayer.”