It Happened More than Once: Freezing Deaths in Saskatchewan


Author's Abstract, Page 51-52:

"This article examines inquests and an inquiry into freezing deaths in Saskatchewan, Canada. It outlines the racial spatial economies of which these deaths are a part, and it proposes that the structural relations of settler colonialism produce and sustain ongoing, daily evictions of Aboriginal people from settler life, evictions that are inevitably violent. The colonial city belongs to the settler, and Aboriginal presence in the city inevitably contests settler occupation. Aboriginality unsettles, challenging the settler’s claim to legitimacy by calling into question the colonial state’s most enduring fiction that Aboriginal people are a dying race. The dumping of Aboriginal people to the outskirts of the city is a practice born of the settler’s need to maintain the lines of force of the colonial city. Today, when dumping comes under legal scrutiny, as it did in the inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild and in inquests into freezing deaths, it is either transformed into a practice of a few bad cops or denied outright. What remains on legal record, however, are the racial spatial economies of the settler city and its persistent devaluation of Aboriginal life, a devaluation that law both produces and sustains. In the first part of the article, I present ideas about the racial/spatial economies of the colonial city, and in the second part I examine the death of Neil Stonechild and the Wright Inquiry, which responded to this death. In the third part, I examine inquests into the freezing deaths of Rodney Naistus and Lawrence Wegner, two young Aboriginal men who died a decade after Stonechild, exploring two movements in space and time: Naistus and Wegner as they moved through the city towards their death in the frozen fields of the northwest section of the city and the journey we are invited on through the inquest, a journey through which we come to understand the deaths of Naistus and Wegner as no one’s fault but their own. Across the landscape of Aboriginal deaths in custody in Saskatchewan, including deaths in prison, deaths due to suicide, and deaths that occur in violent confrontations with the police, the Aboriginal body is a body that cannot be murdered." (51-52).

Publication Information

Razack, Sherene. ""It Happened More than Once": Freezings Death in Saskatchewan." Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 26, no. 1 (2014): 51-80.

Razack, Sherene
Publication Date
Primary Resource
Resource Type