Trudeau praises 'true bravery' of La Loche community
Published Friday, January 29, 2016 4:55AM EST Last Updated Friday, January 29, 2016 7:39PM EST
Local leaders, Saskatchewan’s premier and the prime minister gathered in La Loche Friday to discuss a path forward for the remote community that lost four people in a shooting one week ago.
Prime Minister Trudeau said after the meetings that he “can only begin to imagine the horror facing families on that sad day and during the days that have since followed.”
Trudeau thanked local aboriginal leaders, acting Mayor Kevin Janvier, and Premier Brad Wall, plus the first responders and staff from the high school where two of the victims were gunned down.
“As a (former) teacher I can only imagine the strength, the courage, the selflessness shown by the staff at the high school,” the prime minister said. “I tip my hat to you.”
Trudeau added that medical personnel and police “acted with true bravery” and said “their actions undoubtedly saved many lives that day.”
“We are communities of compassionate, caring citizens across this nation,” Trudeau went on.
“We love and take care of each other and we will -- and we must -- work together to address the deeper issues facing our country, that have yet again been highlighted by tragedy and heartbreak.”
Premier Brad Wall made a comparison between the tragedy and the wildfires that tore through northern Saskatchewan last summer, leaving behind “bleakness, blackness and seeming barrenness.”
“They left something else behind,” he said. “They left the seeds for re-generation and re-growth that will turn that blackness to green quicker than anyone can imagine.”
Wall said that “seeds of hope” have been planted in La Loche by dedicated teachers and community leaders, adding, “there needs to be and can be more support from governments.”
Acting Mayor Kevin Janvier thanked Trudeau and Wall for their support, but said his community needs more.
“I asked them to jointly provide the community of La Loche with a commitment (to a) minimum 10-year community redevelopment fund,” he said, adding the money would be used for education, housing, infrastructure and health.
“Let this be the day that change starts and all the levels of government come together to make real lasting change,” he said.
Janvier said that La Loche has “a strong generous people and we are a community that will get through our challenges together.”
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder, after two brothers, a teacher and a teacher’s aide were killed. Seven were injured.
Teachers from the school have posted a letter on Facebook promising they won’t desert students, even though some teachers have left the community “to seek help.”
"Some people have expressed concern that some of us have left and the fact is, we are hurt and we are healing but we are still here," the letter says.
"We are supporting each other so we can help support you. We will be back. We will rebuild. We will get better together,” the letter goes on.
"So if you find yourself wondering where your teachers and school staff are, the answer is: we are in La Loche. Because truly, where else would we be?"
The teachers' letter: