Saskatoon freezing deaths of Young First Nations Men
The Saskatoon freezing deaths were a series of deaths amongst Canadian Aboriginal people in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 2000s. These deaths may have been caused by members of the Saskatoon Police Service, officers of which allegedly arrested Aboriginal men (usually for drunkenness and/or disorderly behavior), drove them out of the city in the dead of winter, and abandoned them there. The practice was known as taking Aboriginal people for "starlight tours".
Victims who died from hypothermia include Rodney Naistus, Lawrence Wegner and Neil Stonechild. Rodney Naistus and Lawrence Wegner died in 2000 and their bodies were discovered on the outskirts of Saskatoon. However, inquests in 2001 and 2002 into their deaths determined their deaths were due to hypothermia, with no evidence of police involvement. The inquest jury's recommendations all related to police policies and police/Aboriginal relations. Neil Stonechild's body was found in 1990 in a field outside Saskatoon. A 2003 inquest was not able to determine the circumstances that led to his death.
In January 2000, Darrel Night was dropped off on the outskirts of Saskatoon but was able to call a taxi from the nearby Queen Elizabeth Power Station and suffered no ill effects. The two officers involved, constables Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson of the Saskatoon Police Service, claimed that they had simply given Night a ride home and dropped him off at his own request, but were convicted of unlawful confinement in September 2001 and sentenced to eight months in prison.
The Saskatoon police initially insisted these were isolated incidents. But in 2003, police chief Russell Sabo admitted that there was a possibility that the force had been dumping First Nations people outside the city for years, after revealing that in 1976 an officer was disciplined for taking an Aboriginal woman to the outskirts of the city and abandoning her there.