Suspect in La Loche shooting appears in court
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 4:46AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2016 4:47PM EST
A teenager charged with killing four people in La Loche, Sask., made his first court appearance on Monday.
The 17-year-old appeared in a packed courtroom in Meadow Lake, located about 350 kilometres south of La Loche. He will be held in custody until his next court appearance on Feb. 22.
The teen, who can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faces four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and one count of unauthorized possession of a firearm, after the mass shooting at a local high school and nearby home on Friday.
Teacher Adam Wood, 35, tutor Marie Janvier, 21, Drayden Fontaine, 13, and Dayne Fontaine, 17, were killed. Seven others were injured and sent to hospital. A publication ban was issued Monday on the names of the injured.
The deadly spree left the La Loche community reeling, and sent shockwaves across the rest of the country.
"It was very shocking," Diane Janvier, Marie Janvier's aunt, told CTV's Canada AM in a phone call from Saskatoon on Monday.
Janvier described her niece as a helpful and caring woman who loved working with children.
"She was just so very good to people and very kind and really cared about people and she just knew how to show it. Especially towards children," Janvier said. "When (I was) around her, it just made me want to be a better person … she made being good so easy."
On Sunday, Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde in La Loche to pay their respects.
"It was a very sombre day," Goodale told CTV's Canada AM in a phone interview from Regina on Monday. "The community is clearly in a state of shock, as one would expect from such a horrible tragedy. And they're wrestling with coming to grips with the situation."
Goodale said he, Wall and Bellegarde spoke with local La Loche leaders about the challenges the community faces following the shooting.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Goodale said leaders are working to ensure locals feel safe, and that counselling is available for those affected by the event.
"First and foremost it's important to make sure that the community is safe. And in that regard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have done a superb job," Goodale said.
The minister also pledged that the government will support La Loche's long-term recovery, and work to ensure there are more services and opportunities available in the town.
First founded during the times of the fur trade, La Loche has recently faced economic struggles and suicide rates above the national average.
According to a 2014-2015 report by the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority, more than 90 per cent of the residents in La Loche region identify as indigenous. The region's population is also unusually young, the report says, with 27 per cent of residents younger than 15.
There is only one road that leads out of the community towards the south, and most of the year it's a six hour drive to Prince Albert, Sask. The road leading to Fort McMurray, Alta., is only available in the winter.
On Monday, Goodale said local leaders raised a number of issues with the visiting federal, provincial and First Nations leaders, including a need for more community services, a lack of housing and a lack of opportunity.
"It's those sorts of things, having to do with the economic foundation of the community, having to deal with the foundations of its isolation and its remoteness … those are the kinds of things that the community leaders focused on," Goodale said.
Looking to the future, Janvier said she believes her community will need the continued support.
"People in La Loche, our families and our friends, we're going to need all the help we can to get through this," she said on Monday. "The grief is just the beginning."
With files from The Canadian Press