Manitoba

Fox Lake, Man., residents welcome RCMP presence amid search for homicide suspects

Residents of a small, remote Manitoba First Nation say they are relieved to have RCMP officers door knocking in their community, which some people haven't left in days due to safety concerns in the massive search for two B.C. homicide suspects.

'I'd rather have police walking around here than having murder suspects'

Fox Lake Cree Nation resident Dwight Beardy says he'd rather have RCMP in his community than 'murder suspects.' (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Residents of a small, remote Manitoba First Nation say they are relieved to have RCMP officers door knocking in their community, which some people haven't left in days due to safety concerns in the massive search for two B.C. homicide suspects.

"I'd rather have police walking around here than having murder suspects over there or over there, I don't know where they are," Fox Lake Cree Nation resident Dwight Beardy told CBC News Friday night.

An RCMP tactical team dressed in camouflage went door to door on the First Nation, about a 45-minute drive from Gillam, Man.

It's the new normal for the quiet community. Teams of police continue to swoop by the area and have a 24-hour checkstop set up that every driver must go through to get to the First Nation.

The hope is the door knocking will help drum up new tips about B.C. homicide suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky.

For days, Mounties have relied on a drone, a canine unit and a helicopter in their effort to track down Canada's two most wanted men. 

On Saturday, a military plane landed in Gillam to aid in the RCMP-led search for the suspects. The Royal Canadian Air Force will act in a supporting role.

"To have the RCMP presence is one thing, but the military, that's stepping it up another level and once again that proves they really feel they are in the area," says Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman. 

'A lot of people feel uneasy'

The massive police hunt for the men has left the Fox Lake community members scared. 

"I live here and a lot of people feel uneasy, on edge, like I do. You know I'm at home with a deadbolt. I have to lock my door that way, then I have another lock that I need to lock just so I feel safe," said lifelong resident Lynda Neckoway.

"My windows are all closed up just because I feel that fear that somebody could come in, even break the door down," said Neckoway, who organized a community bonfire Friday night to help support her neighbours and young children.

Lifelong resident Lynda Neckoway organized a community bonfire Friday night to help support her neighbours and young children. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

She said the community's children have been told what's going on and were terrified when fireworks went off the other night. 

"Some of the kids that were really scared, they're full of fear and they started crying when they heard that, like, oh my God, what's happening?"

Neckoway said community bonfires are helping people cope. She plans to help put on more to encourage residents to leave their homes.

The RCMP say they have received more than 120 tips in the case.

Mounties warn that while they are focusing their efforts on the Gillam and Fox Lake areas, it's still important for all Canadians to keep an eye out for the two suspects, who could have left Northern Manitoba.

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca