Standing at a podium with the words ‘A brighter future for La Loche’ displayed prominently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $2 million in funding for the northern Saskatchewan community’s high school, three years after a deadly shooting.
La Loche shooting: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces $2.2 million in funding for Dene High School
Trudeau — who was joined by Public Safety Minister and Regina Wascana MP Ralph Goodale, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill MP Georgina Jolibois and La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre — made the announcement at the La Loche Dene High School on Wednesday morning.
Trudeau said the money is to fund new programs and resources at the school, including cultural and language-based programs, on-the-land activities, as well as mental-health services for students.
“As a father and a former teacher, I know that any educator or parent will say the same thing: our No. 1 job is to set our kids up to thrive. As a government, it’s our responsibility, too,” Trudeau said in a packed gymnasium.
“Every day, as you learn in these classrooms, and walk through these halls, you remind us that even out of tragedy, hope will find a way.”
On Jan. 22, 2016, a 17-year-old boy used a shotgun to kill two brothers in a nearby home before opening fire in the school, killing two more people and injuring multiple others.
Premier Moe also announced that money will be spent on the expansion of a housing initiative that’s already in place. Adding onto 14 housing units already in place, 12 more housing units will be built for use by teachers and health care workers. Moe said the province is hopeful the units can help with recruitment and retention of workers in those professions.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Moe said he witnessed the “pain and sorrow” from a loss that was “so sudden and so shocking.
“We also saw inspiring courage,” he added.
In the months and years since, Moe said, the community has been determined to rebuild in the face of adversity “that most of us could never really imagine.”
The shooter has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of teacher’s aide Marie Janvier and teacher Adam Wood, two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine and seven counts of attempted murder. In May, he was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. The sentence is under appeal, which means his name can’t be published.
After the shooting, the community debated whether or not to reopen the school. In the end, students pushed for teachers and administrators to open the doors and let them back in.
The Saskatchewan government provided $4.45 million to renovate the school and patch up damage caused during the shooting; the facility marked its reopening last week.
La Loche is located approximately 520 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
— With Canadian Press files
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