Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Girl mauled to death on way home

Attacked by dogs after taekwondo class in northern community

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Raquelle Tssessaze had received her yellow stripe in taekwondo only days before and was proud to show up at her regular class Tuesday night and relive the experience with her clubmates.

Tragically, the 10-year-old girl never made it home after class.

The resident of Lac Brochet died Tuesday around 6 p.m. when she was attacked by two dogs on a trail through the bush in the remote northern community.

Raquelle, the second-youngest of five children, was rushed to the local nursing station but did not survive.

RCMP say two large dogs of an unknown breed were destroyed by community members after the attack. The dogs belonged to a community member, but the girl wasn't familiar with them, RCMP said.

'We are a very close family, and she loved to come see us. I'll miss her little smile and her kindness. She was a sweet little girl' -- Raquelle's grandmother, Laura Tssessaze

Brandon Nataweyous, one of her taekwondo instructors, said Raquelle took a shortcut home after class, a route through the trees "where no one is usually around" when the mauling occurred.

She was found by someone driving a truck along the trail. "It's very sad. She was one of the good students, a quick learner," said Nataweyous. "She only joined in January, and she got her yellow stripe -- that's the first one -- on Saturday. She seemed really happy."

Lac Brochet is a remote northern Dene community about 1,015 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, with a local population of about 800 people.

Raquelle's great-aunt, Eileen St. Pierre, said the family is reeling.

"It's hard to talk about," she said. "There are so many memories of her. We had Christmas dinners, special occasions together. No one is doing too good. We're a small community and everyone knows one another. When an incident like this happens, everyone is so, so sad."

St. Pierre said she spent most of Wednesday with Raquelle's parents, Sara and Robert.

"We've been seeing them all day. They are trying to cope for the other (children)," said St. Pierre, whose niece is Sara.

She said there are too many stray dogs roaming freely in the community, and the little girl's death should signal to Lac Brochet leaders enough is enough.

"The community has to do something... shooting them for the safety of another human being," St. Pierre said.

Raquelle's grandmother, Laura Tssessaze, said the child visited just about every other day.

"We are a very close family, and she loved to come see us," she said. "I'll miss her little smile and her kindness. She was a sweet little girl.

"It's Easter time, and we shouldn't be burying our grandchild."

Tssessaze said an autopsy is scheduled for today in Thompson, and Raquelle's remains will be returned to the community for burial by the weekend.

"Right now, all we can do is try to hold up as best we can," she said. "We still have each other."

This is the second child to die in Manitoba this year from a dog mauling.

Seven-year-old Gracie Herntier-Clark was pronounced dead at Children's Hospital in Winnipeg after being attacked by two Alaskan malamutes in March near Oakbank.

No charges were laid in that death.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2014 A8

History

Updated on Friday, April 18, 2014 at 1:03 AM CDT: Removes reference to January 2013 death.

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