Reflecting on the La Loche tragedy

Almost a week ago, on Jan. 22nd an armed young man entered La Loche Community School in La Loche, Sask. and opened fire.

Another senseless act of violence, a tragedy has occurred.

Almost a week ago, on Jan. 22nd an armed young man entered La Loche Community School in La Loche, Sask. and opened fire.

Nine people were shot during an eight-minute period.

Two brothers were also found dead in their home in a neighbourhood in the northern Saskatchewan community called Other Village. Officials have said they were likely killed before the school shooting.

Shortly after the police were called, the shooter was arrested near the school. A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was arrested in connection with the shootings. He is currently charged with four counts of first degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

This incident has rocked the nation.

Premier Rachel Notley quickly offered condolences last Friday.

“Albertans’ prayers are with the victims, their families and the first responders to the horrific shooting at the La Loche Community School in northern Saskatchewan,” she said. “It is unacceptable that innocent children and their caring teachers should suffer violence and bloodshed under any circumstance, and especially in school where they have a right to feel safe.

“We know how closely knit First Nations communities are, and this tragedy is being felt and shared by every member of the Dene people, and by Indigenous peoples right across Alberta. All Albertans stand beside our Saskatchewan neighbours, and we share in this tragedy as parents, educators and friends.”

School shootings are relatively rare in Canada. This incident is reported as the worst school shooting in our country since the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.

It has also been more than 15 years since there has been a school shooting in a Canadian high school. In 1999, a 14-year-old student killed another student and wounded another at a school in Taber. Officials believed the shooting was inspired by the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which had occurred only a few days before.

So what happens next for the northern Saskatchewan community? Provincial and local officials are currently debating whether it is best to tear down the school, with the thought being it would assist in the healing process.

The school remains closed, lives have been changed forever.