Canada markets closed
  • S&P/TSX

    18,480.98
    -521.70 (-2.75%)
     
  • S&P 500

    3,693.23
    -64.76 (-1.72%)
     
  • DOW

    29,590.41
    -486.27 (-1.62%)
     
  • CAD/USD

    0.7360
    -0.0055 (-0.74%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    79.43
    -4.06 (-4.86%)
     
  • BTC-CAD

    25,939.37
    -8.95 (-0.03%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    434.61
    -9.92 (-2.23%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,651.70
    -29.40 (-1.75%)
     
  • RUSSELL 2000

    1,679.59
    -42.72 (-2.48%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    3.6970
    -0.0110 (-0.30%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    10,867.93
    -198.88 (-1.80%)
     
  • VOLATILITY

    29.92
    +2.57 (+9.40%)
     
  • FTSE

    7,018.60
    -140.92 (-1.97%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    27,153.83
    -159.30 (-0.58%)
     
  • CAD/EUR

    0.7588
    +0.0052 (+0.69%)
     

'Can't stop, won't stop': Family frustrated as elements of Sark killing remain unsolved

·6 min read
Jamie Sark’s mother Joyce Sark says she does not believe police are committing the same effort to his case as they would to an investigation involving a non-Indigenous victim. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
Jamie Sark’s mother Joyce Sark says she does not believe police are committing the same effort to his case as they would to an investigation involving a non-Indigenous victim. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing to readers.

The family of Jamie Sark, who was killed last year in Lennox Island, P.E.I., says they are frustrated that questions about how he died remain unanswered.

A statement of facts read in Summerside court last week said Sark died in an apartment on the First Nation the night of Aug. 21, 2021, after a fight over a liquor bottle.

Jamie's cousin, 32-year-old Christopher Sark, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week — admitting he delivered the fatal blow that killed 28-year-old Jamie and then smashed a bottle over his head.

Christopher Sark said he then left the scene and did not know what had happened to the body.

"Who is responsible for that? Who hid my son for two and a half months?" Jamie's mother Joyce Sark said in an interview with CBC News.

"Chris wouldn't be able to move a body by himself."

Found 2 months later in woods

After an intense search that at times extended to the other Maritime provinces, Jamie's body was found in the woods on Lennox Island in November 2021.

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

RCMP co-ordinated an initial search using helicopters, boats and police dogs on the land and in the water around the island off P.E.I.'s North Shore.

Jamie Sark's body was eventually found about 300 metres from his mother's house, along a well-travelled path that the family said they had passed through many times.

"He wasn't there before," Joyce Sark told CBC News at the site where her son's remains were recovered. "He wasn't there yesterday, but today he showed up?"

Police searched two properties in the spring of this year, but so far there have been no charges laid other than the one to which Chris Sark pleaded guilty.

Are we finished? No. We're not finished - Joyce Sark, Jamie's mother

Joyce Sark said she believes RCMP have already been given all of the information about who may have been present the night her son died.

She said police lack the motivation to solve the second part of the mystery, calling that an example of systemic racism against her and her Mi'kmaq family.

"They never came to [tell] me nothing, ever since last year," Joyce Sark said.

She said the Crown prosecutor's office never contacted her, even when charges were laid, which she heard about through the Lennox Island community. And she said only staff of the provincial Victim Services were in touch with her.

"This court system, the RCMP system, all has to change."

Facebook
Facebook

Still following up on tips: RCMP

The RCMP told CBC News it could not comment specifically on what contact there was between Joyce Sark and police officers.

A spokesperson said the force has worked diligently since Jamie Sark went missing and its Major Crimes Unit is still investigating in order to get justice for the Sark family.

"We continue to receive tips about this investigation, which we follow up. Even as of last week, we received tips," Sgt. Chris Gunn said, adding that anyone with more information to provide can contact the local RCMP detachment or Crimestoppers at (902) 566-7081.

"With this type of investigation, we need to make sure we have all the facts, so it does take time," Gunn said.

'The system didn't give them a chance'

Madlene Sark is a band councillor and a cousin to both Jamie Sark and Chris Sark. She said what happened between her cousins is a tragedy, and an example of how Indigenous people in Canada are treated.

"I feel very conflicted, and I'm sure a lot of community members are feeling the same way," she said.

"There's no real sides to this, and we all need to heal from this because we're all dealing with the same intergenerational trauma … and those two boys — I feel so sorry that this turned out this way.

"They were good people in their own way … The system didn't give them a chance."

Both Madlene Sark and Joyce Sark are open about Jamie Sark's struggles with addiction, and they wish he could have received the help he needed and wanted.

"Jamie was struggling to get clean. I was his only support system," his mother said.

"He had plans to go for treatment, and if they would have sent him to treatment when he asked, then maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe we would have had him a little bit longer."

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

Madlene Sark said part of the problem is that the programs are offered to community members living with addiction only if they have been clean for at least 30 days — something she doesn't think is realistic for many because of intergenerational trauma.

"For us to just get over this — it's not going to happen," she said.

"But we do need the supports and we need people to be allies to us. And that means those that want to get help … there has to be a better answer than that, because you're losing people within that 30 days."

Intergenerational trauma is also something Joyce Sark said she knows well.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Her parents and grandparents attended the Indian Residential School in Schubenacadie, in central Nova Scotia. She herself narrowly avoided the Sixties Scoop; she said her cousins hid her in the woods when the RCMP came for her. She ended up attending the Indian Day School on Lennox Island.

"I wasn't born an alcoholic. I drank because I don't want to remember the trauma. I don't want to remember domestic violence. I don't want to remember that I was sexually assaulted," she said.

"So I'm going to drink. I'm going to do hard-core drugs and my mind is not going to go in that place."

Marking 'Jamie's Spot'

Joyce Sark, with the help of her community, has now created a memorial park in the woods, at the place where her son's body was found last November.

There is a bench painted in the colours of the medicine wheel, a picnic table and a beautiful eagle feather carving. There's a bag of medicinal herbs and a seashell left out for smudging.

Joyce Sark comes out to the site at least once a week.

Nicola Macleod/CBC
Nicola Macleod/CBC

"I talk to him. I miss him. I tell him I need his strength sometimes, and I tell him I'm fighting for justice for him."

When she is asked about "Justice for Jamie" — something printed on both her hoodie and pants — the words come quickly.

"Chris admitted what he did, it's a start. Are we finished? No. We're not finished," she said.

"When the rest of them are picked up and put in jail and sentenced …  I can say, 'Yes, it is finished.'

"We can't stop, won't stop."

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

Joyce Sark hopes the clearing in the forest — which she calls Jamie's Spot — will be a place for the community to come and heal, and for people from across Prince Edward Island to come and remember her son.

"I didn't ask to live through something like this, but I'm living in it every day," she said.

"And as for Jamie's legacy… Don't ever forget his name. You say 'Jamie Sark,' you remember him. You remember that his life was taken.

"You remember my name: Joyce Sark. Because I'm the only one who is standing up and fighting for justice for him."