La Loche being revictimized due to lack of support: judge
Moe made his comments Tuesday after the judge sentenced a young man to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
The shooter was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed two brothers at a home before going to the local high school and killing a teacher and a teacher’s aide.
Judge Janet McIvor said the killing spree has left a mark on La Loche, with fewer teachers willing to work in the northern Saskatchewan community.
She also said there has been an increase in suicides and substance abuse.
“They have been abandoned. They have been let down.” McIvor said.
“Pretty much to a person, what I heard, was that counselling services aren’t available. I heard that people aren’t having counselling anymore because they can’t afford counselling. I have read victim impact statements that disability isn’t covering physiotherapy. Disability isn’t covering the PTSD.
“It’s a travesty. It’s yet another victimization of all involved. It’s not fair. It’s not right.”
In a statement from the Saskatchewan government, a spokesperson stated “after a tragedy of this magnitude, there is always more work to do. We recognize the people of La Loche need support now and in the weeks and years to come”
After the shooting, provincial mental health and addictions services added a mental health nurse and suicide prevention worker who live in La Loche.
The two staff members provide services in several communities, but work out of the friendship centre in La Loche, according to the province.
There are now six mental health and addictions workers in the former Keewatin Yatthe Health Region– covering the La Loche area.
School counsellors have increased from two to five.
WATCH BELOW: Crown prosecutor hopes La Loche sentencing will offer “some degree of closure”
Phyllis Longobardi, who was injured in the shooting, praised the judge for scolding the government.
“Good for her,” Longobardi said from her home in Amherst, N.S., after watching a live stream of the sentencing at her local courthouse.
“The government has done nothing — absolutely nothing — for the community. It’s done nothing for the victims.
“It basically came out with this political line, ‘Oh, we’ll help you.’ And then when nobody’s looking, they take it all away.”
She said she’s heard the same complaints from other victims, families and community members she’s kept in touch with.
And she feels for those in La Loche who may see the shooter again if he returns to the community after he gets parole.
WATCH BELOW: La Loche mayor reacts to school shooter’s life sentence
La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre said his community needs and deserves the help McIvor highlighted during sentencing.
“Counselling services for sure because we’ve got a lot of people dealing with a traumatic event that occurred,” St. Pierre said outside of court.
READ MORE: Sombre anniversary marked in La Loche, Sask.
Moe said he hasn’t reviewed McIvor’s remarks but says his government needs to do better.
“When we are faced with any type of tragic occurrence here in the province of Saskatchewan, we need to work hard to do better in areas such as La Loche,” he said.
Moe said the government has put in place a Dene teacher education program, which is training people to become educators in the community, and invested in a trades program at the high school.
“But there is more work to do, and it’s not just in northern Saskatchewan,” he said.
In 2016 and 2017, the federal government contributed roughly $3.5 million to the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, which includes the Clearwater River Dene Nation adjacent to La Loche, according to Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson Martine Stevens.
“For the 2017-18 fiscal year, Clearwater River Dene Nation received $422,222 in mental health funding through a contribution agreement under Non Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) Supplementary Health Benefits for August-March,” Stevens said in a statement.
Funding has also been provided under Jordan’s Principle for 150 students in Clearwater River Dene Nation requiring additional mental health counselling.
— With files from Global’s Ryan Kessler and The Canadian Press
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