La Loche, Sask. still struggling, according to community leaders

WATCH ABOVE: Community leaders in La Loche are holding an availability, ahead of the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 2016 deadly shooting, to answer questions about the community's recovery and new initiatives now under way.

The community of La Loche, Sask., still has a long road ahead in its recovery from a mass shooting that claimed four lives and left seven others injured last January, according to the mayor of the village.

“I think we’re still struggling, I think we need a lot of support,” said La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre.

READ MORE: 4 dead in La Loche, Saskatchewan school shooting

On Jan. 22 of last year, a then 17-year-old gunman killed brothers Drayden Fontaine, 13, and Dayne Fontaine, 17, at a house in La Loche, before moving onto the high school and shooting staff members Marie Janvier, 21, and Adam Wood, 35, who also died. The accused has since pleaded guilty to the murders.

St. Pierre was joined by fellow community leaders at a press conference Monday afternoon inside the high school where some of the shootings occurred. He said some progress has been made since the tragedies in areas like community housing, education and health care.

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However, officials told reporters that there are still large gaps in the response effort. Acting principal of the La Loche Community School Greg Hatch went as far as saying his students and staff feel “abandoned.”

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“Everybody rushed into our community, into our school, they were with us for a month, a little more than a month, then everybody left,” Hatch said.

READ MORE: Leaders in La Loche talk about recovery prior to school shooting anniversary

Hatch said his assessment wasn’t meant to disrespect those who moved to help the community in the wake of the shootings, but instead an honest assessment.

“We still haven’t dealt with the trauma,” Hatch said.

FULL COVERAGE: La Loche school shooting

Officials also indicated that the village lacks residents who can properly administer the amount of support that poured into the community after the shooting.

“We have to have some type of long term strategic plan, we have to have people to help us implement it,” La Loche Friendship Centre executive director Leonard Montgrand said at the press conference.

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“We can’t do it ourselves, to be honest, it’s too much of a workload.”

The press conference was held in advance of the anniversary date of the shootings. St. Pierre said the community will mark the day with a church service, lunch and candle light vigil.

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