La Loche students play basketball with PM Trudeau in trip to Toronto
Published Friday, January 13, 2017 8:31PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 13, 2017 10:15PM EST
A group of high school students from a remote Saskatchewan First Nation devastated by a school shooting last year were given a whirlwind introduction to Toronto this week, including court time in the Toronto Raptors’ training gym with coach Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The 10 students from La Loche, Sask., were put through their paces by Raptors’ training staff and had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with the prime minister. They later sat courtside at a Toronto Raptors game Friday night as the team took on the Brooklyn Nets.
The trip was organized by Raptors’ general manager Masai Ujiri and CTV’s Marci Ien, who covered the story of the devastating shooting that killed four people and injured seven others.
Ien has also set up a GoFundMe page for the Dene High School breakfast program, which offers the community a time to come together and bond over a hot meal -- you can donate here.
Ien said the students were “open” with Trudeau about the issues the community is still facing in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“This is still very much a journey of healing at this point. It’s one year out,” Ien said.
And some of the teens used the opportunity to get personal with the prime minister.
“I actually asked him about how Obama was, because I’m a big fan of Obama,” said Breland Montgrand. “He was like, ‘He’s a very thoughtful guy.’”
Trudeau spoke about his meeting with the 10 students at a town hall meeting in London, Ont. later on Friday. The visit was part of the prime minister’s cross-Canada tour to connect with Canadians and discuss their concerns.
“To sit with those young people today and talk about how they’re dealing with it, how they’re looking for more support, how they’re developing resilience to deal with not just the challenges of being a teenager but going through tremendously difficult circumstances … was really something,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister highlighted an interaction with a young student named Jeremiah, who Trudeau says told him that he didn’t want “to disappear.”
“He said, ‘I want to make sure that my language, my culture, my identity, is passed on,’” Trudeau said. “For him, he knew that language and identity is wrapped up in your sense of self, your sense of worth.”
The prime minister said it was “a message of hope and inspiration from someone in a community that has been through tremendously dark times.”
The trip to Toronto also included a visit to the set of CTV’s The Social and a trip to Ryerson University, where some students discussed their plans for the future.
“When I got to university I’ll probably be thinking about being a doctor or a surgeon,” said student Allaya Moise.
While brief, the visit seems to have made an impact on the students, Ien said.
“I’ve seen this group grow in 24 hours. The kids that arrived 24 hours ago are not the kids that are here right now,” she said.
With files from CTV Toronto