“Bloodshed besets Bloodvein.”
The story was a recent collaboration published in the Winnipeg Free Press by crime reporters Mike McIntyre & James Turner. The article featured details regarding the disturbing deaths of Cliff Malnyk (52) and Timothy Goosehead (31) who were recently murdered on the Bloodvein First Nation.
Malynk was killed on February 8, 2014 after RCMP responded to a house fire on the reservation. His body was found inside the burned out home around 2:30 a.m. His daughter, Melanie Bushie (22), attended the burning residence and knocked on the door in her efforts to save her father. Those efforts were thwarted after she was slashed with an edged weapon by one of two (2) suspects who fled from the blazing building.
Goosehead was killed on February 10, 2014, after being stabbed multiple times. Although the motive for the attack is unclear, the story indicates Goosehead was recently released from jail after serving 303 days for assaulting a Bloodvein woman in March of 2013. The victim in that case is reported to be a relative of the teen charged with his murder.
The teen, a seventeen (17) year old youth, with alleged gang associations, was charged with Second Degree Murder in connection with both of the killings. A fifteen (15) year old youth was charged with assault with a weapon in the Malnyk case.
The story raises many questions.
Questions about permissive violence, alcohol abuse, safety, parenting, leadership, adequate Police resources and the role of a desensitized judiciary.
Bloodvein Chief Roland Hamilton told the Free Press poor parenting, abuse of alcohol and lack of Police resources are contributory factors to the “recent” outburst of violence. Hamilton advised the RCMP Detachment has run with only two (2) of the four (4) sworn members normally assigned to Police the Community.
The RCMP website indicates the Detachment is staffed by one (1) Corporal, three (3) Constables and one (1) public service employee. The site also indicates approximately eight-hundred (800) First Nation people live on-reserve while approximately four-hundred-fifty (450) live off reserve.
I have a tremendous amount of sympathy and respect for the two (2) lonely Police Officers who’ve been trying to keep a lid on the violence. I can’t even imagine the danger, lack of support or level of frustration they must experience on a daily basis.
The RCMP employ a community based problem solving approach on the reserve and have developed working groups that include:
- Solvent Abuse Team
- Alchohol Abuse Team
- Suicide Intervention Team
- CFS Team – focusing on issues of family stability, alcoholism and abuse.
While inadequate Policing, poor parenting and lack of on reserve leadership may be contributing factors to the “recent” outburst of violence, is any of this new to the embattled community?
Half an hour of research on the internet tells a troubling story.
- December 5, 1987, the deceased body of off-reserve Bloodvein resident Cheryl Duck (15) is found in a field near Ritchie Street in the City of Winnipeg. Duck had suffered blunt force trauma that fractured her skull. Hypothermia was also a contributing factor in her death. Her murder remains unsolved.
- March 1, 2003, off-reserve Bloodvein resident Patrick Hamilton (52) was stabbed to death at a drinking party in a suite at 145 Powers Street in Winnipeg. An autopsy revealed he suffered a total of twenty-three (23) stab wounds to his chest, abdomen and lower back. Charges against a suspect were dropped.
- May 17, 2009, Bloodvein RCMP are dispatched to a home at 4;45 a.m. regarding a shooting. On arrival, Police locate a thirty-three (33) year old man suffering from a gunshot wound. Police arrested Danielle Loraine Cook (18) and charged her with aggravated assault and discharge firearm with intent in connection with the case.
- June 27, 2009, Bloodvein RCMP respond to a request for assistance call and discover the body of Albert James Goosehead (12) who was the apparent victim of a violent baseball bat attack. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. Police arrested Tennessee Waylon Weedmark (18) and charged him with second degree murder. Goosehead had just finished grade six and won awards for physical education and most improved student in his grade.
- August 13, 2009, RCMP are dispatched to a complaint of a person lying on the road. Upon arrival, Police locate the deceased body of Joshua Fisher (20) who died of blunt force trauma. Police subsequently charged Charles Orvis (20) of Bloodvein with second degree murder.
- March 31, 2013, Bloodvein resident April Boulanger (30) kills her long time boyfriend Russell George Hamilton (31) after an escalating domestic dispute. Hamilton died as a result of suffering a single stab wound to the chest. Hamilton had been convicted of assaulting Boulanger on two (2) previous occasions and had set fire to her home during one of the incidents. Boulanger was charged with second degree murder but plead guilty to manslaughter and received an apathetic sentence of two (2) years less a day. A pre-sentence report was completed by a Probation Officer who indicated domestic violence was so common place in the community it had become “normalized” and residents “accept it as a fact of life.”
- May 29, 2013, two (2) year old Jason Johnson was playing in a neighbour’s yard with several friends when he was attacked by a Rottweiler. The boy suffered extensive injuries to his face and required plastic surgery. RCMP members subsequently destroyed the vicious animal. No responsible adults could be located at the residence where the dog lived.
- June 6, 2013, the Johnson family home was torched in what the victim’s believe was a retaliatory strike launched by people associated to the deceased canine. Two (2) girls aged twelve (12) and fourteen (14) were subsequently charged with arson. The incident was the sixth (6th) arson reported in the community at that time.
- In 2012, there were eight (8) arson cases reported in Bloodvein.
The McIntyre / Turner report indicates that more than twenty (20) RCMP Officers were dispatched to the reserve to continue the investigation into the deaths of Malnyk & Goosehead. There can be no doubt that part of their mandate is to quell the abhorrent violence that continues to affect the community.
The question needs to be asked, is the increased RCMP presence a half measure or short-term experiment?
There can be no doubt that a serious, long-term intervention is required to change the permissive violence affecting the Bloodvein community. The RCMP do not own that responsibility but certainly must be catalysts for change. While I commend Chief Hamilton for recognizing some of the contributory problems I haven’t heard anything from him regarding an action plan to improve safety and security for his people.
The people who live on these reserves deserve better from the Police, the Judiciary, the Government, Social Agencies and their political leadership. It’s apparent the quality of life for people living in the Bloodvein community is not comparable to the quality of life for people living the Canadian dream in the rest of our Province.
For far too many people, the unfortunate fate of being born on the Bloodvein First Nation is the equivalent of receiving a death sentence.
One thing is certain, this kind of violence and dysfunction would never be tolerated in middle class, main stream Canada.
And that’s the truth.