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Manitoba man stabbed over diapers in The Pas

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The survivor of a deadly random attack in The Pas said he was stabbed over a box of diapers – a violent encounter that he said shows the need for more support in his community.

Oliver Hart was walking out of his apartment last Friday, his arms full of baby supplies for his young child, when he said three people confronted him.

He said one of them grabbed a box of diapers from him, and another pulled out a knife.

"That's when I realized this was actually happening. This is serious. These guys are threatening my life."

Hart said the one with the knife lunged at him and stabbed him in the side.

"It caught me off guard. It was so quick. It happened so fast," he said. "I let go of the box and the two ran off with my son's Pampers. And it hit me, you know, I've just been stabbed."

Hart was one of two men stabbed in The Pas that day. The second victim, 41-year-old Eugene Michelle, died of his injuries.

Manitoba RCMP said it appears the attacks were random.

Police charged a 16-year-old male with second-degree murder, and a 15-year-old female and 33-year-old man with manslaughter. The charges have not been proven in court. Police said they are not looking for any other suspects in the attacks.

Hart has lived in The Pas for 12 years, and until now has never been threatened or attacked before. But he said there has been a rise in drugs and gang violence.

"It wasn't always like this, but in the last few years, it has grown more and more violent," he said.

"There needs to be a bigger response – a call to action against these types of activities and these people bringing that into our community."

It is a call echoed by Andre Murphy, the Mayor of The Pas.

"There's a huge drug problem within our area, our tri-community, but as well as throughout northern Manitoba," he said.

He believes better addictions and mental health supports would help curb the violence.

There is one 16-bed addiction treatment centre in The Pas, but according to the Northern Health Region, there is currently a three to five-week waitlist. A spokesperson for the region said there are other supports provided through the community's general hospital, along with community addictions workers. Further supports are available in Thompson.

However, Murphy said due to the long waits, many residents end up travelling to Winnipeg or Brandon to get the care they need.

"We as a community would like to see the same level of services in northern Manitoba as well as in The Pas as you see in southern Manitoba," he said.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Bernadette Smith, the minister covering addictions and mental health, said the province is committed to improving supports for northern communities dealing with addictions and mental health challenges.

"Including working with law enforcement to hire additional mental health support workers," the statement reads. "We also continue to collaborate with community organizations to ensure that people can access treatment options across Manitoba, regardless of where they live.”

Sitting in his hospital bed in Winnipeg, recovering from the stabbing, Hart said he hopes changes will come soon, so something like this doesn't happen again.

"This shouldn't have been. And to the people who attacked me – I'm stronger than this. I'm going to keep living."

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