The shocking drowning of a 12-year-old Indigenous boy sparked outrage in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Owen Guhne drowned on June 30, but the boy’s family told local media that there had been allegations the boy was taking part in illegal mining for copper ore.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized 11 metal detectors along with four drilling sets, four engine rakes, and other equipment from a property in Cooper Landing. The stolen materials were found in a second search of the property earlier this week.
The 12-year-old’s mother, Lakota man Mona-Ella Oates, said that Guhne and a friend went fishing on June 28 and returned to his house for “dinner” later that night. He drowned in a stormwater sewer drain late on June 30.
“They were supposed to come to my house to eat supper after fishing,” Oates told Global News. “I am just disgusted.”
Guhne’s friend survived the drowning. The RCMP continue to investigate.
“The RCMP is in the final stages of a complete investigation into the drowning of this 12-year-old young person from the Cameron First Nation. We are still gathering evidence, and if necessary, the use of sniffer dogs can also be used to investigate the premise as well,” RCMP Spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said in a statement.
Oates said the stormwater drain where Guhne drowned should have been blocked for several weeks to deter mining.
“Cooper Landing needs a 1,000-foot swale to contain erosion. These mines were never plugged, and it is a big pit for a small town,” she said.
In a separate incident, two Aboriginal boys were hospitalized in Saskatchewan this week after being allegedly electrocuted. The RCMP are investigating the incident.
The mother of one of the boys told Global News that she recently saw water in the drain, but did not make the connection. Police are investigating the allegations.