LA RONGE, Sask. – An emergency official says two children were injured in northern Saskatchewan when they were doused with gasoline and set on fire, but Mounties say a third child involved is too young to charge.
Corey Ecarnot with La Ronge EMS said paramedics were called to the Lac La Ronge First Nation early Sunday to treat an eight-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.
Ecarnot could not say how serious the children’s injuries were.
“One was treated at La Ronge hospital and the other was airlifted to Saskatoon,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Police would only say that the two children were injured in an altercation with a third child, who was also under the age of 12.
“Due to the age of the child, the child cannot be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act,” the RCMP said in a statement.
CTV News quoted one woman who didn’t want her name used as saying she was outside her home at about 2 a.m. on Sunday when she saw three crying children walking down the street, two of them badly burned.
She said the third child ran away when she said she was calling the police.
She said she brought the injured children into her home while she dialled 911, and that the boy had burns on his face and was losing consciousness while the girl’s hair was burned.
The two blamed the third child, a boy, the woman said.
The Ministry of Social Services said because of the Child and Family Services Act, it cannot confirm if a child or family has had involvement with the agency or the First Nations Child and Family Services Agency.
However, the department said in a news release that a section of the act allows for a delegated agency to become involved with children who are under the age of 12 and have committed an act that would be a criminal offence if they were older.
“The purpose of Section 11 is to ensure that both the child and the community are safe,” said the department. “Based on the assessment and needs of the child, we may provide intensive supports to maintain the child safely at home or place the child in care.”
La Ronge is about 380 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan has seen other cases where a child has been hurt and the alleged offender was too young to charge.
In 2013, six-year-old Lee Bonneau was beaten to death by a 10-year-old boy on the Kahkewistahaw reserve in southeastern Saskatchewan.
Bonneau’s foster mother was playing bingo when the younger boy and older boy walked off together.
The province’s child advocate found that the older boy, who had a history with Social Services but was living with his family, had behavioural issues and shouldn’t have been in the community unsupervised.
— With files from CJWW in Saskatoon and CTV Regina