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“Dad tried to kill me”: it was through this text message sent by her 13-year-old son that Vanessa Burns learned of the attacks

Attacks by James Smith: Killer's ex-wife describes abusive relationship | Saskatchewan knife attacks

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Vanessa Burns was in a relationship with Myles Sanderson since 2008. Together, they had five children.

  • Vincent H. Turgeon (View profile )Vincent H. Turgeon

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Vanessa Burns, the ex-partner of Myles Sanderson, the man responsible for the attacks that occurred on September 4, 2022 in Saskatchewan, offered very moving testimony as part of the coroner's inquest into the killing.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">On September 4, 2022, Myles Sanderson stabbed 11 people, including his brother, Damien Sanderson, and injured 17 others in the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon, Saskatchewan. It was the worst stabbing attack in Canadian history.

A hunt ensued. man for three days until law enforcement spotted the car in which Myles Sanderson was traveling on September 7 near the village of Rosthern, 66 km northeast of Saskatoon.

Shortly after his arrest, the fugitive found himself in respiratory distress. Paramedics were called to the scene to take her to a Saskatoon hospital, where she was eventually pronounced dead.

On several occasions, Vanessa Burns broke off due to emotion while talking about her abusive relationship.

At first he was charming, funny. He seemed normal, she says.

Unfortunately, two months into their relationship in 2008, things took a turn for the worse.

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Knife attacks in Saskatchewan

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Vanessa Burns explains that on several occasions, Myles cheated on her, hit her, emotionally abused her. His temper landed Myles behind bars a few times. Despite everything, Vanessa continued to defend him out of compassion.

I know how his absence affects our children. […] He is a good father and helps around the house. We miss him, she even wrote in a letter addressed to the Parole Board.

Throughout this abusive relationship, Damien Sanderson, Myles' brother, often came to Vanessa's aid.

Damien was the only one who could help me against Myles' attacks.

Vanessa Burns admits today that she was then afraid of her partner.

Dad tried to kill me: it was through this text message sent on September 4, 2022 by her 13-year-old son that Vanessa learned of the tragic events that had occurred in the James Smith Cree Nation.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">My son told me that Myles had come to my parents [where the child was staying], says Vanessa. He didn't see anything, but he heard sounds of fighting. […] He told me that Myles had stabbed my mother and father. He didn't know where his grandfather was.

A few hours later, Vanessa Burns learned that her father had died.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">It became a lot more real when the emergency alerts started ringing on my cell.

A quote from Vanessa Burns, Myles' ex-partner Sanderson

I was scared, she remembers, believing that Myles was going to come and kill her. Where am I supposed to go? I can't go anywhere. I can't go home.

This fear only stopped when Vanessa learned of the death of her partner.

The first words my daughter said to me when we found out Myles was dead were: “At least you won't get beaten up again.”

A quote from Vanessa Burns, ex-partner of Myles Sanderson

In concluding her testimony, Vanessa Burns wanted to emphasize that she would like to see a better parole system for people convicted of domestic violence. She emphasizes that longer sentences, to the extent that the absence of the violent spouse also helps the family, could be beneficial.

As for my community, I would like it to pay more attention to its members and what is happening there, she said to say in a message that appeared to be addressed to members of the James Smith Cree Nation present in the audience. Pay attention to your community!

During her relationship with Myles, Vanessa explains that she visited a shelter for women and children several times. However, each time, she chose to leave because these shelters were crowded.

I returned with Myles because I had nowhere to go, she explains. We need bigger shelters for families like mine.

During his cross-examination, Darryl Burns, whose sister Gloria Burns died during the attacks, made a point of addressing Vanessa.

I lost a sister that day. I lost a friend, your father. I lost a lot of family members, he said, his voice trembling. I want to tell you that I'm not mad at you. I love you and I love your family.

The coroner's inquest, which began January 15, aims to shed light on the deaths of the victims, including how, when and where they were killed. It also aims to make recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

A second investigation into the death of Myles Sanderson is scheduled for February.

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