INDEPTH: TABER SHOOTING|
Letters from Taber
Rosemary Nawolski, for CBC News Online
Rosemary Nawolski has lived in Taber nearly all her life. She's agreed to share her feelings on the tragedy, and what it's done to her town.
'Let's make this a new start for Taber'
May 4, 1999
"After all of this is over, and you all go home, I still have to go home to an empty bedroom." Those are some of the words that Rev. Lang said at the memorial. They ring true, except for he left out one detail -- he has gotten through to at least one citizen of this town. Me.
The whole town is talking of what a great man Rev. Lang is, and I wholeheartedly agree. If his message has gotten across to even one person, he has done a great service to this community.
I have the utmost respect for this father, who has lost his son. I am sure that there was not a dry eye among those who observed the memorial to Jason, his son. His words struck a chord whithin me, and I can't help but think that if even only one kid in school embraces another, perhaps one who "is not a jock ... or the best looking kid", he has done his job hasn't he?
We can all learn a lesson from this. Let's start to repair this "broken society" in which we live, and let's make this
a new start for Taber, Alberta. Let's listen to his words and make this the new start we need. Let's start loving and respecting each other.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all started to think like Rev. Lang? It would be "awesome", wouldn't it?
'How can these kids and teachers go back there?'
April 30, 1999
Well, there are new headlines in the news today, there was a bombing in London. Life goes on, tomorrow it will be something else. There is starting to be a lot of anger here, and finger-pointing. I have heard people blame everything from the Internet, to Marilyn Manson, to the parents and students who ridiculed this boy and yes, even the media.
Where does the blame really belong? What made this boy do what he did? Is it our society in general? There will be no answers, at least not now. I think we as Canadians, especially us in a small town, were a bit too smug, thinking that this could never happen here, and yet here we are, caught up in the wake of this mess.
The residents of Taber are really starting to feel annoyed at the media, although it has calmed down considerably. There are still cameras in the faces of kids dropping off flowers and cards at the school, and there are still the reporters trying to interview people on the streets.
They don't understand that the general attitude is: hey, its over, and let us get on with it and deal with it, without having our privacy invaded. We as a community are not used to dealing with something on this level, and really don't know how to begin to deal with it.
A lot of news reports are commenting on how private we seem to be, maybe it's just for that reason alone ... we don't know how we are supposed to react, or what we are supposed to say. What is there to say?
As I said earlier, there are new headlines and life goes on, but just what the future holds for us here is hard to predict right
now. There are about 400 kids here that don't want to go back to the
school, my niece included, as well as my sister-in-law, but what do you do? We need to soon return to some kind of normalcy here, and right now, it's difficult to do, with it being so predominant here.
How can these kids and teachers go back there, and just go on? I feel for every last one of them as this has impacted each and every one of us some way or another.
I think if we all took the attitude that Reverend Lang has, it will make this next little while more bearable. He stated today that we need to care for each other more, and to embrace a more spiritual attitude towards life in general. He is a very wise man.
Maybe that's exactly what we need to start teaching our kids. If even only one kid who is on the path of destruction changes his ways, wouldn't it be worth it?
'The whole town is in shock!'
April 29, 1999
Day two of the madness...the whole town is in shock! I think everyone wanted to wake up today and find that the whole thing was a bad dream, but its not to be...there are reporters and cameras everywhere.
A girlfriend took her little boy to school today, and there
were reporters there, wanting to ask questions ... I think most of the mothers just wanted to make sure their kids got to school safely, not that it seems to matter any more -- the innocence is lost!
Where are our kids safe? That seems to be the question of the day. I watched the press conference today, and I cried when I saw Rev. Lang, his comments hit the nail on the head. One of his quotes was: "May the Lord have mercy on the society in which we live."
He expressed his concern about the boy who randomly shot and mortally wounded his son ... and there was no anger, just hurt in his eyes and in his voice. My heart goes out to his family.
I have heard that some of the media were randomly calling businesses and homes today, asking if the people who answered had any connection to the people involved in the shooting, or if they wanted to comment ... it seems like no one here wants to get involved with the reporters.
I personally think that there is not a lot to say, the reality is just starting to set in. Driving through town, that's all you see -- cameras and reporters and vans with station logos...this is big news, I guess!
I got an Email today from Germany, from a cousin of mine who heard it on their news. That made me realize just how big this really is..not just as a community, but in history ... the first school shooting after the Littleton, Colorado incident.
Maybe that's what this 14-year-old wanted ... there's lots of speculation about that ... he was a loner and he was ostracized, life was hopeless, so why not do something that will make everyone remember his name?
A lot of anger is being expressed today about the Young
Offenders Act. I myself think that this boy will not be behind bars for long, if ever, and that scares me. If
he is behind bars for four years, until he is 18, that means he will be out when my little girl starts school....will he be rehabilitated, or will I have to worry that he, or someone
who thinks like him, that's been hassled in school, that is not popular, will go into my little girl's elementary school, and open fire?
As I have said before, the innocence is gone. Taber is not the safe haven that I thought it was, and that is very, very sad!
'I stared at the phone in disbelief...'
April 28, 1999
I was at home just finishing up lunch, and got a call from my mother that there was a shooting in W.R Myers High school. My heart jumped into my throat. I have a sister-in-law that
is a teacher there, and a neice that is a student there. My mom was in the grocery store when she heard about it, and just thought it was a rumour, as we had a bomb threat a couple of months ago that turned out to be a mistake.
After a couple of calls, my sister-in-law finally answered the phone at home and told me that her daughter, my neice, was safely at home. I asked her if it was just a scare, if someone was just shooting at the school or something, and that's when she told me that it was much more serious, that one boy was thought dead and another critically injured.
I stared at the phone in disbelief, realizing that the small town of Taber would never be the same again.
At this point the details were sketchy, but she told me the names of the boys hurt, and of the shooter, and I realized that the mortally wounded one was the minister's son. For the next few hours, the phone didn't stop ringing. People from all over were hearing the news, and then most of the phones in Taber were down, overloaded from the calls incoming and
I went downtown to the store, it was practically deserted,
and the people who were there, were almost like in a daze ... there was a lot of disbelief and shock on faces. Many were teary eyed, even though they may not have known any of the parties involved, but because it's hard to believe that this happened in our town.
Everyone that I have talked to expressed the same concerns ... what is happening to our youth?
Late in the afternoon, the media started pouring into Taber, and it was all over the local news, both on the TV and radio. By early evening, there was coverage from American stations.
One comment I heard was about an American reporter asking what the Young Offenders Act was. I found that ironic...
That night, the hotels in town were all full, from the media. It seemed that the only people out and about were not from here. The locals preferred to be with their kids in the safety of their homes.
People are hoping the media is sensitive to the families involved and hope that they don't put pressure on the families for comments, and to let the Lang family grieve in peace.