Shooting aftermath: La Loche mayor wants high school 'torn down'

The acting mayor of La Loche says he wants the community's high school torn down to help the village's residents move past the trauma of a mass shooting on Friday.

See Full Article

At a news conference on Sunday, Kevin Janvier suggested that Dene High School, where seven people were wounded and two people died during the shooting, would have to be demolished in order to give them a feeling of catharsis.

"Personally, I want that school to be rebuilt," Janvier said. "Torn down, rebuilt -- a whole new structure -- because of the trauma that happened on January 22, 2016."

Janiver, along with other community leaders, met with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde in La Loche on Sunday.

After the meeting, Wall told reporters that the province would provide support to the grief-stricken village of La Loche for "as long as necessary," as it mourns the total of four residents who were killed in the mass shooting.

The Saskatchewan premier said a range of issues were discussed at the gathering, including infrastructure, education and mental health.

"We don't know the specifics around the tragedy, but I can say, in the general sense that the link is hope," said Wall. "And I think a lot of mental health issues stem from a lack of hope."

Wall said that the provincial government will continue to "offer support," such as counselling, done through the local school division and health region, as well as financial services to help those who have been forced to travel to Saskatoon to visit the victims of the shooting.

"We just need to make sure (the resources are) not just there for the short-term, but as long as necessary," said Wall.

La Loche is small, isolated community of less than 3,000 people located 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

The village is linked by only one road from the south and can be reached by an ice road from Fort McMurray, Alta., in the winter. In recent years, the village has struggled with unemployment as well as education, mental health and housing issues.

Wall said that he hopes to address the region's long-term issues in "partnership" with the federal government.

Bellegarde stressed the importance of implementing a strategy to "end violence" in indigenous communities and provide "hope” for the younger generation.

"To make sure (this) never happens again, you’ve got to bring people to the table to work on (a) national strategy."

Bellegarde pointed out several areas of concern, including a dearth of youth programs and wellness centres.

Meanwhile, Goodale said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal government are "absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary" to resolve the issues facing communities like La Loche.

"It is a huge tragedy, one that reaches far beyond this community," Goodale said of the shooting. "This community is the epicentre of the most recent tragedy, but it is a set of issues that the country has to come to grips with, and Mr. Trudeau is determined to make that happen."

Police say a gunman shot and killed four people and injured seven others on Friday at two different locations in La Loche.

Officers responded to reports of a shooter at Dene High School at about 1:15 p.m. on Friday.

The gunman was active for about eight minutes, before police chased him through the school, arrested him and took him into custody, police said.

In those eight minutes, two victims were fatally shot.

Marie Janvier, a 21-year-old tutor, was found dead at the school, and Adam Wood, a 35-year-old teacher, was rushed to hospital and later pronounced dead.

Police then went to a nearby home, where they found Dayne Fontaine, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, dead.

Seven other victims from the school were taken to the La Loche Health Centre and Hospital with injuries. Four were then airlifted to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

On Saturday, RCMP announced that they had charged a 17-year-old suspect with four counts of first-degree murder in the case.

The teen, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, also faces seven counts of attempted murder and one count of an unauthorized possession of a firearm.

The suspect is expected to appear in the Meadow Lake Provincial Court on Monday.

The high school where the shooting took place remained closed on Sunday as police continued their investigation on the grounds.

The school district superintendent said it is unclear when students will be able to return to classes, and that grief counsellors and social workers were on hand to speak with anybody affected by the event.

Fundraiser set up to help with costs of funerals, victim support

About 250 mourners gathered in a Roman Catholic church in the community on Sunday, where Archbishop Murray Chatlain offered encouraging words to attendees.

Chatlain said he wanted to remind residents that the village is made up of "tremendously generous people."

"When something tragic like this happens, it's often the only time people hear about a community like La Loche and it's only in bad news, and the people here are very faithful and good people," he said.

Chatlain added that he has met with the victims' families, as well as the family of the 17-year-old suspect. He said that he wanted to offer the suspect's family support during this "nightmare experience."

"We're not blaming them. ... It's just, this has happened and now how do we bring healing and support and try find ways for our young people to have more hope," he said.

In a new statement released on Sunday, Wood's family said they were "devastated," but hoped that the incident could create an opportunity to enact "lasting systemic change."

"It is in these moments we are given the opportunity to examine ourselves and, hopefully, come out better and stronger as a community and a nation," Wood’s family said.

"Rather than looking for someone to blame, or coming up with outsider opinions of reasons why this occurred, we must stop and listen to the voices of La Loche. The leaders and members of the community know what types of support and changes are needed."

A former La Loche teacher, who now lives in Burnaby, B.C., has set up an online fundraiser for the victims of the shooting.

According to the fundraising website, the money is intended to help pay for funerals and supporting those who were injured. Any excess funds will go towards the La Loche Community School.

With files from CTV Saskatoon and The Canadian Press



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Armenian premier steps down, manoeuvring for early election

    World News CTV News
    YEREVAN, Armenia -- Armenia's prime minister has stepped down, a political manoeuvre aimed at forcing an early election. Nikol Pashinian, who took office in May after spearheading weeks of protests that forced the resignation of his predecessor, has pushed for an early parliamentary election this fall in a bid to unseat foes who maintain a majority. Source
  • No chance Congress will vote on USMCA this year, Mitch McConnell says

    World News CBC News
    The free trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico that leaders from all three countries agreed to in principle recently is a ways away from becoming law, as the man in charge of the U.S. Source
  • Haunted house actors suspended over simulated rapes

    World News CTV News
    AKRON, Ohio - Complaints from visitors about being pushed onto a mattress where actors simulated raping them at an "edgy" haunted house in northeast Ohio has led to the suspension of the actors involved. Akron Fright Fest owner Jeremy Caudill says he was "shocked and appalled" when he learned Monday what had happened over the weekend at his haunted house in Summit County's Springfield Township. Source
  • Transport Canada taking a 'fresh look' at issue of seatbelts on school buses

    Canada News CBC News
    Transport Canada will investigate whether seatbelts are necessary on school buses after a hidden report — recently made public — revealed buses failed the department's own safety tests. "I have instructed my department to take an in-depth look at the question of seatbelts in buses — a fresh look based on all of the evidence that has been collected since all the way back to 1984," said Transport Minister Marc Garneau in the House of Commons on Monday. Source
  • Small plane crash near Ottawa narrowly misses home, pilot in serious condition

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - A pilot is in serious condition with a head injury in hospital this morning after his plane crashed west of Ottawa during the morning rush hour. Emergency calls came in around 8:30 a.m. Source
  • Cancelling cap and trade will result in $3 billion is lost revenue: FAO

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario's fiscal watchdog says the Progressive Conservative government's decision to end the cap-and-trade system will result in the loss of $3 billion in revenue over the next four fiscal years. The Financial Accountability Office says in a report released today that the loss of revenue is greater than the savings achieved by cutting spending associated with the program, and will worsen Ontario's budget position. Source
  • Liberals move to end solitary confinement of federal prisoners

    Canada News CBC News
    The Liberal government is moving to end the use of solitary confinement of federal prisoners. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tabled legislation Tuesday to establish penitentiary units, called Structured Intervention Units (SIU), that will house inmates separately while still giving them access to rehabilitation, mental health care and other programs. Source
  • Idaho wildlife official resigns after killing baboon family

    World News CTV News
    BOISE, Idaho -- A top Idaho wildlife official has resigned amid outrage over a photo of him posing with a baboon family he killed in Africa. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said in a statement that he asked for and accepted Blake Fischer's resignation on Monday, three days after the Idaho Statesman newspaper published the first report about a photo of Fischer smiling with four dead baboons propped in front of him. Source
  • Brian Gallant, Blaine Higgs urged to form a grand coalition to govern New Brunswick

    Canada News CBC News
    An elder statesman of New Brunswick politics is pushing a bold idea to resolve the political standoff in the legislature: a coalition government between the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties. Bud Bird, a former Fredericton mayor, PC provincial cabinet minister and MP, made the proposal in a letter to Liberal Premier Brian Gallant and Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs. Source
  • As identical twins, we shared everything. Except my eating disorder

    Canada News CBC News
    I am a journalist, and I am an identical twin. Those identities usually co-exist peacefully, and my personal life rarely bleeds into the professional. But my unique experiences with my twin sister have led me to a story that I can't ignore. Source