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B.C. woman jailed for aggravated assault while on manslaughter probation

Two judges have called Sadie Taniskishayinew a risk to the public.
Taniskishayinew pic
Sadie Taniskishayinew.

A Vancouver woman was sentenced to four years in prison Sept. 28 for two vicious assaults that happened while she was on probation for a manslaughter conviction.

Vancouver provincial court Judge Kathryn Denhoff said the 2020 assaults to which Sadie Taniskishayinew, 29, pleaded guilty to were unprovoked and involved defenceless people.

Denhoff also characterized the 2015 fatal stabbing of a man for which Taniskishayinew was also jailed for as an attack on a defenceless person. The judge characterized much of Taniskishayinew’s behaviour as "unrestrained violence."

Taniskishayinew and Robert Boucher had been drinking when he left the party. Denhoff heard Taniskishayinew ran after him with a knife, stabbed him and left him to die on a street.

The judge who sentenced Taniskishayinew in 2018 called her a risk to the public. Denhoff echoed those same words Thursday.

The sentencing

The new charges for which Taniskishayinew was sentenced involved an attack on a man at a SkyTrain station and another on a street.

Court heard that on March 27, 2020, the man at the SkyTrain station had asked a group Taniskishayinew was with to turn down their music. Court then heard she punched him in the head.

An associate of hers began to assault the man while Taniskishayinew took his backpack. A passerby intervened and the associate stopped.

The assault then resumed.

Three more people arrived after Taniskishayinew told the man she would call her nephew to deal with him. As the three “swarmed, straddled and punched” the man, Taniskishayinew kicked him in the head three times, the judge said.

When the victim got up, “Taniskishayinew punched him forcefully on the head.”

Denhoff said video evidence showed the group high-fiving as they left.

“It is clear that she called the males to participate in the assault,” Denhoff said.

The judge said the victim’s turban was pulled from his head; he also needed eye surgery and remains fearful of public transit.

“His injuries were by no means trivial or transitory,” Denhoff said. “He was also subjected to racial slurs that led him to believe he was targeted because of his race.”

On Oct. 3, Taniskishayinew had demanded a woman leave an area she was in. Two men were with her as she paced around after the demand.

“(Taniskishayinew) suddenly raised a large knife ... and stabbed her in the head area,” Denhoff said, noting the victim had stab wounds around her eye.

“It seems miraculous the victim’s eye was not damaged.” 

While the victim was holding her head, Taniskishayinew punched her four times in the head, grabbed her by the hair “and viciously threw her to the ground.”

The victim hit her head on the pavement, court heard. Taniskishayinew then kicked her and left.

The judge said in light of the earlier manslaughter conviction, Taniskishayinew knew such an attack could result in significant injury.

Taniskishayinew’s background

Denhoff said violence has long been a part of Taniskishayinew’s life.

The judge said Taniskishayinew was born to a 15-year-old who had been physically and sexually abused in a residential school.

“Her suffering from violence is so extensive that she has come to expect violence from others, including romantic partners,” Denhoff said.

The judge said Taniskishayinew’s police record includes multiple attacks on people in public places. That record of violence has also continued while in custody, Denhoff said, noting a record of assaults on inmates, abuse to staff and bullying other prisoners to get drugs.

Court heard Taniskishayinew has repeatedly expressed a desire to deal with substance abuse and anger issues but when the supports are put in place for her, she does not take advantage of them.

Broken down, Taniskishayinew’s sentence is four years for the October 2020 assault and six months for the SkyTrain assault. With credit for time served, she will spend three years and nine months in prison, likely at Fraser Valley Institution for Women.