Leaders meet in La Loche, Sask. after shooting shook community, Canada
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Perry Bellegarde met with other senior politicians in La Loche, Sask. Sunday afternoon following a deadly shooting that left four dead.
The group met with community leaders to offer any assistance they could to help the tiny northern community deal with the aftermath of the tragedy.
Acting mayor Kevin Janvier, local MP Georgina Jolibois and Saskatchewan ministers Don Morgan and Donna Harpauer were also at the meeting.
The premier said his government will be a “willing partner” in helping the community get through the tough days and weeks ahead. Wall said the meeting touched on a range of issues including education, infrastructure 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. “I think a lot of mental health issues stem from a lack of hope.”
Wall also said the provincial government will continue to “offer support” to the community.
“We just need to make sure (the resources are) not just there for the short-term, but as long as necessary,” said Wall.
The mayor of La Loche, Kevin Janvier and the local MP and former mayor, Georgina Jolibois called for the school in their northern Saskatchewan community to be torn down and rebuilt.
“I want that school to be rebuilt. Torn down, rebuilt … because of the trauma,” Janvier said.
Jolibois agreed saying “there’s so much pain, so much trauma. The school needs to be rebuilt.”
Chief Perry Bellegarde said that to prevent further tragedies in First Nations communities like La Loche, investments are needed to close the gap in terms of poverty with indigenous communities and the rest of Canada.
“According to the United Nations Human Development Index Canada is rated sixth in terms of quality of life. But when you apply the same indicators to indigenous peoples were 63rd,” Bellegarde said. “Maintaining that gap is not good for this country. Its not good for this province or any province.”
“We have to make key strategic investments in education in training and wellness centres and youth programming to provide a bright hope for the future.”
Officials from the province said flags have been lowered at the Saskatchewan legislative building and all other government buildings in memory of the victims.
RCMP have charged a 17-year-old suspect with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized possession of a firearm. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday, Jan. 25 in Meadow Lake, Sask.
The suspect can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.