Winnipeg woman who survived Ottawa school shooting reflects on La Loche attack

Decades have passed, but Joanne Logan says she still can't forget the day she was in class at St. Pius X High School in Ottawa when a student opened fire on his classmates with a shotgun.

Sask. shooting brings back painful memories for witness in 1975 attack at St. Pius X in Ottawa

Joanne Logan survived a school shooting in 1975, when a classmate opened fire on students at St. Pius X in Ottawa (CBC)

Decades have passed, but Joanne Logan says she still can't forget the day she was in class at St. Pius X High School in Ottawa when a student opened fire on his classmates with a shotgun.

The notorious attack on Oct. 27, 1975, is considered Canada's second ever school shooting.

It's a sad state of affairs when kids can get their hands on guns and do such damage.- Joanne Logan

"Suddenly we heard the door opened and you heard, 'Band, bang!" said Logan, who was in Grade 13 at the time. "Someone yelled, 'Hit the floor!' and then someone yelled 'He's shooting at us!'"

The shooting happened in the middle of a religious studies class on a "bright, sunny day," Logan recalled, adding there were between 30 to 40 students in the room.

When the attack began, Logan said she hid under her desk, covered her ears with her hands and clung to her faith.

"If you know you're going to die, you say your, 'Our father,'" said Logan. "I said many Our Fathers, thinking I was going to die."

She said after four shots, two boys stood up and slammed the door shut.

"There was just mayhem in the class. We didn't know what was going on," said Logan, adding when she stood up, her classmate beside her was covered in blood.

"My first thought was 'What if there are more people, what if they come back with machine guns? We're all dead," she said.

Logan remembers there seemed to be no emergency plan. Someone broke a window open with a chair, and she climbed outside. People were roaming around the school ground, but as a new student at the school, Logan said she felt she didn't know anyone well enough to help.

"I caught a bus and I remember sitting on the bus thinking, 'No one knows what I've just been through," she said. 

Her mother, who had been watching the attack unfold on the news at home, was "very happy" to see her alive, she said.

The shooter, Robert Poulin, had sexually attacked and killed 17-year-old Kim Rabot. He went on to shoot six others that day before killing himself. One of the wounded students died a month later.

Logan said the shooting in La Loche, Sask., is bringing back painful memories and her thoughts are with everyone affected.

"It stays with you forever," she said. "I feel such sadness and anger when I hear of another shooting.... What they go through, the loved ones, it's just horrible."

Logan said she hopes schools invest in making sure there are guidance counsellors and support available for students who are struggling psychologically. She added that it angers her that school shootings are still happening and increasing in frequency.

"I cringe when I hear it and I think, 'Will it ever stop?" she said. "It's a sad state of affairs when kids can get their hands on guns and do such damage."


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