A Saskatoon woman who has said she was the victim of domestic abuse is to be returned to Canada after she was arrested in Oregon for allegedly using false identification to cross the border with her seven-year-old son.
Judge Stacie F. Beckerman of the U.S. district court in Oregon ordered that Dawn Marie Walker, 48, be returned to Canadian officials Wednesday.
The prosecution and defence both consented to Walker’s return to Canada after she waived a formal extradition process, which would likely be lengthy.
Scott Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, told the court that returning Walker to Canada is in the best interest for both countries.
Agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are to drive her to the Canadian border where she is to be released to law enforcement.
She also faces charges in Canada, which include public mischief and child abduction in contravention of a custody order.
U.S. federal public defender Megha Desai told the court that Walker is the victim of intimate partner abuse and, as a result, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Walker, who is a member of Okanese First Nation, had issued a statement earlier this month saying she fled Saskatoon because she feared for her safety, and that of her son. The father of Walker’s son has told Saskatoon radio station CKOM that he would never hurt her or the boy.
Beckerman said Tuesday that she lamented that Walker ended up in her courtroom in Oregon and did not get the support she needed at home.
“I hope that you are able to see your son soon,” she said to Walker.
Walker, who is a celebrated Indigenous author and chief executive officer of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, was arrested on Aug. 5 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
She was charged by U.S. officials with two offences related to allegedly using fake identities to cross into the country with her son, who has since been returned to Canada.
Walker’s pickup truck was found at a park south of Saskatoon last month, along with some of her belongings. Some people feared she and her son had drowned in the South Saskatchewan River.
For two weeks leading up to her arrest, RCMP and Saskatoon police treated it as a missing person’s case.
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.
Saskatoon police have not said whether allegations of domestic violence played a role in their investigation. The police force said any previous allegations made by Walker were investigated, but no charges were laid.
By Mickey Djuric