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‘No choice’: Saskatoon woman arrested in U.S. says she fled with son out of fear

Dawn Marie Walker, who is facing allegations she faked her own death, remains in custody in Oregon
Saskatoon Police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman speaks at a media event, regarding the case of Dawn Walker, in Saskatoon, Monday, August 8, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

A woman accused of faking her own death and that of her son says she left Saskatoon because she feared for their safety.

Dawn Marie Walker, 48, is in custody at the Multnomah County detention centre in Oregon.

She was arrested Friday in Oregon City by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and charged with two offences for allegedly using fake identities to cross into the country with her seven-year-old son. The boy has since been returned to Canada.

“So many women and children before us have had to run for their lives to protect their children,” Walker said in a statement provided to The Canadian Press.

Saskatchewan lawyer Eleanore Sunchild spoke with Walker on Monday and dictated Walker’s words.

In the statement, Walker said she was failed by the Saskatchewan justice system because “nothing was done” after she reported domestic abuse to police and child protection authorities.

She said she witnessed something with her son that scared her to the core and she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She said more information will come out in time.

“I apologize to anyone I hurt,” Walker said. “I was left with no choice. No one heard me. I loved my son … very much. He is my only child, and I would do absolutely anything for him.”

For two weeks prior, RCMP and Saskatoon police investigated the disappearance as a missing person’s case. Walker’s pickup truck was found at a park south of Saskatoon, along with some of her belongings, and some people feared Walker and her son had drowned in the South Saskatchewan River.

Walker, chief executive officer for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, is also an author.

On Monday, Saskatoon police announced they were working to extradite Walker back to Canada where she faces charges of public mischief and child abduction in contravention of a custody order.

Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said allegations of domestic violence may or may not play a role in their investigation of Walker.

“Any potential or any previous allegations made by Dawn Walker were thoroughly investigated and no charges resulted as a result of those investigations,” said Huisman.

The father of Walker’s son could not be reached for comment. But he told Saskatoon radio station CKOM last week that he would never hurt Walker or their son.

“There’s no truth to any of that, and that’s all I can say,” the father said.

An affidavit filed in Oregon court from Clinton Lindsly, a special agent with Homeland Security, says Walker and the boy’s biological father had been engaged in a lengthy custody dispute and she was supposed to return the child on July 25.

The document and other court records also accuse Walker of coming up with an elaborate scheme to fake the deaths, including stealing the identities of a co-worker and the co-worker’s child to open a bank account, buy an SUV and drive across the border.

The documents say officers also found a hand-written checklist in Walker’s SUV about dying hair, covering tattoos and throwing a phone in the water.

Walker said police “only cared when they thought I was dead.”

When she returns to Canada, she said, she has a story to tell.

“I am an fighting systems that continuously fail to protect me as an Indigenous woman and protect non-Indigenous men,” Walker said in her statement.

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. said they want Walker to remain in custody until a trial. She has been detained as a flight-risk until her next court appearance on Sept. 7.

RELATED: ‘Elaborate ruse’: U.S. prosecutor says Saskatoon mother in custody dispute faked deaths