A lens on knife violence in Brantford

Machete and knife attacks are becoming more frequent in Canada, leaving victims in serious condition.

From Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, there were three separate attacks in Toronto. Two of the incidents sent teenage boys to hospital with lacerations on their hands. One of the teenage boys had one of his fingers severed from the attack. The third incident occurred at the Eaton Centre, where a man carrying a 30-centimetre machete and 20-centimetre hunting knife attacked a shopper before being tackled by security. In Winnipeg, Canada Day celebrations were ruined following a machete attack that sent another victim to hospital.

Brantford is not immune to machete attacks. In July and September, two attacks left men in serious conditions. One of the victims was sent to hospital to be treated for a 20-centimetre laceration on his neck. The machete cut through the victim’s neck, slicing the muscles on the right side of his neck and just barely missed severing his nerves and arteries. Police eventually charged a man with attempted murder following the attack on Dalhousie Street.

The first four weeks of 2016 have seen Brantford police respond to four incidents involving knives according to published reports on its websites. Two of the incidents were robberies that saw the perpetrator brandish a knife to hold up a store. The two other incidents involved individuals uttering threats to another person while being armed with a knife. One of the incidents included a naked man waving a knife while issuing threats. In both cases, police intervened and charged both men with multiple offenses.

Machetes are popular tools for bushwhacking, hunting and gardening. Under Canadian law, anyone can buy one, but some stores have policies that prevent the sale to anyone under 18.

Meaghan Hanley works at Brantford Surplus, on Colborne St., where machetes are kept behind the counter to ensure safety and prevent shoplifting. Hanley believes that the government should consider require licenses in the future when purchasing machetes.

“We sell one to two a week during the summer,” said Hanley. Machetes sell for $17.99 plus tax at Brantford Surplus.

Canadian Tire is one of the largest retail stores in the country. For as little as $30, anyone can buy an 18-inch machete. “Every Canadian Tire carries machetes, not just Brantford,” said Brantford store employee Erin Petelka.

The machetes inside the Brantford location, on Lynden Rd., are locked in a glass cabinet. However, machetes in Canadian Tire were not always behind glass. “One was not behind glass. One was stolen just after the summer,” said Petelka.

Fellow employee Jamal Chase said machetes are not a high-volume item. “(Machetes are) not sold that often. (I’ve) worked here about a year and only sold a few,” he said.

Both Petelka and Chase said there should be restrictions on the purchase of machetes. “There should be a limit. (There) Should really have to enforce (selling to) 18 (years olds) plus,” said Chase.

Petelka said that the sale of machetes should be similar to the sale of crossbows. “Its 18 plus for crossbows, but no licenses or info.”

Please note, since this article was written Brantford Police have charged a 32-year-old woman with second degree murder following the stabbing death of a man in Brantford on Saturday Feb. 6.

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