An indigenous health expert at the University of Saskatchewan says it is vital that people from La Loche, Sask. help drive the community's healing process.

"The last thing we want is for people to flood into this community and try to tell the community what they should do next," said Caroline Tait, a medical anthropologist at the University of Saskatchewan.

On Friday afternoon, Adam Wood, a teacher, and Marie Janvier, an educational assistant, were gunned down at La Loche Community School where seven people were also injured. Brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, aged 17 and 13 respectively, were killed at a separate residence.

A 17-year-old male suspect has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. 

Tait is a co-leader of the First Peoples-First Person Indigenous Hub, a research network that looks at mental health issues in First Nations communities. She said it is vital that people in La Loche drive any discussions.

"We know historically, if you go in and say 'I know what needs to be done,' you actually don't," said Tait. 

Tait said it's very important that counsellors speak Dene, a First Nations language spoken by many people in the community.

"Anything that needs to occur has to occur in the language that the youth speak," she said. "It's something very simple, but it's that respect towards who they are."

The medical anthropologist said she's confident people in the community have the strength to get through this tragedy, if they're given proper resources.

"These are incredibly resilient, smart people," she said. "There's a huge amount of strength in the north."


  • In a previous version, Caroline Tait was identified as a psychiatrist. She is in fact a medical anthropologist.
    Jan 27, 2016 9:13 AM CT