This Was The First Documented Starlight Tour Case

So-called Starlight Tours refer to a particular practice by Canada's Saskatoon Police that is rarely documented but has resulted in at least five First Nations men freezing to death, including a 17-year-old boy, in the "wind-whipped prairie," according to the Washington Post.

 A Starlight Tour is when police drive intoxicated Indigenous people out of town and leave them to walk home and sober up. According to CBC News, the practice was mostly the stuff of urban legend due to a lack of police reports from either side, but the activity underscores a long history of racism against Canada's Indigenous people who were dropped off many miles from home in freezing cold temperatures and left to try to make it home on foot.

The practice was first documented in 1976, Two Row Times reported, when two aboriginal men and a woman who was eight months pregnant were picked up by a Saskatoon police officer and dropped off outside of the city, left to make it home on their own.

The situation is described in the 2005 book, "Starlight Tour: The Last Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild." According to the woman in the 1976 case, an officer approached her and her companions about drinking in public and told them to get into his cruiser. At first she thought they were going to jail. But that's not where they went. 

The woman was the first person to report a Starlight Tour

According to the woman, the three friends fell into silence as the cruiser took them outside of town, not understanding what was happening. The cruiser came to a stop. The officer silently got out of the car, grabbed them each by the collar and pulled them out before getting back behind the wheel and wordlessly driving away. At first, she said they were relieved to have been released unharmed, but then, they realized how far they were from town. During the long walk home she resolved to report the incident, even though she thought no one would believe her. In the end, the woman was able to prove her story.

In October, 1976 the Saskatoon Police Chief posted a memo, which is published in "Starlight Tour: The Last Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild," for all of his staff to see. It read: "Instead of charging the people with having liquor in a place other then a dwelling, the officer (forced) the said persons into a Police vehicle and (drove) them to a remote area outside the City Limits and (left) said individuals to walk back to the City, particularly a female who was then eight months pregnant."

According to the memo, officer denied the accusations, but was found guilty. He was "reprimanded" and fined $200.