By Mervin Brass

La Loche school yellow tape

Interim Mayor Kevin Janvier wants the La Loche Community School torn down following last week’s fatal shootings. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says school will open only after everyone feels safe to return. Photo credit: Treaty 4 News.

(La Loche, SK) A line of cars and trucks park along the road in front of the La Loche Community School as residents of the northern Saskatchewan village lay down tobacco, flowers and candles slowly building a memorial to remember the victims who died last Friday after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage.

A 17-year old man is charged with four counts of First Degree Murder, seven counts of Attempted Murder and one count pf Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm. He will make his first appearance in Provincial Court on Monday in Meadow Lake.

The communities of La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene Nation are mourning the deaths of Dayne Fontaine (17), Drayden Fontaine (13), Adam Jacob Wood (35) and Marie Jaqueline Janvier (21).

The pain and hurt from the shooting was never more evident when interim La Loche mayor Kevin Janvier made a call to dismantle the school.

“I want that school torn down and rebuilt because of the trauma,” said an emotional Janvier telling reporters the town is hurting. “And will be for years to come.”

A delegation of political leaders that included Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Federal Minister of Public Works and Safety Ralph Goodale and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde joined the local Member of Parliament Georgina Jolibois and Mayor Janvier to lay down a wreath.

A crowd gathered around to hear the delegation express their sorrow and condolences about last week’s tragedy.

“I don’t know what words there are, if they exist even, to possibly describe how you feel and how devastated the community is and how the province feels,” said Wall. “I have had such an outpouring of people in Saskatchewan, people from around he world, from the United States, other Premiers, some of who have retired, the federal government, texts and emails wanting me to express to you, that this whole country is praying for La Loche and area.”

“We are here as well to show support to the families and the individuals in the community that need that help,” Bellegarde told the crowd. ” And making sure governments pull together at all levels.”

Earlier in the afternoon the political delegation met with local leaders from La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation to find out what they need to deal with the tragedy and move forward.

Wall told reporters following the 90-minute session the province is prepared to provide whatever they need to deal with the aftermath of last week’s “horrific event.”

He says the top two emerging short term issues are safety and trauma.

“We have been very clear, on behalf of the province of Saskatchewan we will provide whatever resources are necessary to make sure that this community feels safe and is safe,” said Wall. One of the items that came up in the meeting was when the school would open. “The first parameter would be not until every single student, every single member of the staff and parents and grandparents feel that it is a safe place.”

During the meeting Wall said Clearwater River Chief Teddy Clarke said young people feel safe there and up until Friday the school was a place they wanted to be.

“It changed on Friday for some,” said Wall. “For many and for maybe most.”

RCMP members from across the province have been deployed to La Loche, one of the Mounties told Treaty 4 News he does not know how long the assignment will last.

Wall said counselling services will be provided to those who need to deal with the trauma.

The Premier added that Social Services will help financially the people traveling to Saskatoon to visit the injured that are in hospital.

As for the long term Wall said his government will respond to calls for more education, infrastructure and a road from La Loche to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde thanked the RCMP for the quick response, the Saskatchewan Premier for his commitment to do something in a substantive way and Minister Goodale for providing services.

“It’s only by working together that we’ll bring an end to this violence and tragedy,” said Bellegarde. “That not only hits La Loche but right across Canada. We all feel that hurt and pain.”

Bellegarde said the upcoming federal budget is the time to put in place the proper resources for better education systems, wellness centres, mental health strategies, sports and recreation facilities for youth.

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