La Loche shootings: Justin Trudeau visits Saskatchewan village
Prime minister meets with friends and relatives of 4 killed, 7 wounded in shootings a week ago
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited La Loche, Sask., on Friday to meet with members of the northern village where four people died of gunshot wounds on Jan. 22.
"I'm confident to say all Canadians mourn with the people of La Loche and the people of Saskatchewan," Trudeau told a crowd gathered in the village.
"We are communities of compassionate, caring citizens across this nation. We love and take care of one another, and we will and we must work together to address the deeper issues facing our country that has yet again been highlighted by tragedy and heartbreak one week ago."
- LIVE BLOG: Justin Trudeau visits La Loche
The acting mayor of La Loche, Kevin Janvier, also spoke at the gathering.
Janvier said he spoke with Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall on Friday about providing funding for La Loche.
"The commitment I asked of them was that they provide a minimum 10-year community development fund to La Loche. The funding will be used for education, housing, infrastructure, and health-related services."
I do know that governments of all stripes have not done enough to support and invest in northern and remote communities.- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau, while not addressing those specific concerns, said the federal government will be there for the "extraordinarily resilient community."
He referenced his election campaign, where he spoke about the need to invest and rebuild communities — specifically indigenous communities and those in the North.
"I can't speak for past governments, but I do know that governments of all stripes have not done enough to support and invest in northern and remote communities," he said.
"This is a reminder that in Canada everyone should have a real and fair chance to succeed, regardless of where they were born, regardless of where they live, and we're going to be a government that is going to work every day to ensure people have that chance."
Residents pleased to see PM
Several La Loche residents CBC News spoke with, including Emile Herman, said it was a good idea for Trudeau to make the trip.
"It would be nice if he come to the community to find out what's really going on," Herman said.
He pointed to high unemployment and the need to support youth in La Loche.
As someone who has worked with youth in school before, Herman said, part of the problem is that students are losing their Dene culture.
"We never have a chance in this community for anything, that I know of," he said.
Expressing a similar sentiment was John Montgrand, who said he hopes some good can come from the attention Trudeau is bringing to the village.
"I feel that people should step in and help us, because we talked to these leaders here," he said. "They're not doing nothing."
Money for facilities or after-school programs to keep kids busy would be a start, Montgrand said.
Shortly after his plane touched down around noon, Trudeau went to meet community leaders at the Ducharme elementary school.
These have been our darkest hours and we know there is still a long road ahead. We have begun the process of healing.- Kevin Janvier, acting La Loche mayor
Trudeau was joined by Wall, whom he had invited to attend, according to the premier's office.
"There need be and can be more support from governments," the premier said to community members.
Marie Janvier, 21, an educational assistant, Adam Wood, 35, a teacher, and brothers Dayne and DraydenFontaine, aged 17 and 13 respectively, died in the shootings. The brothers were shot at a residence, while Janvier and Wood were among those shot at the local high school.
Seven people were sent to hospital after a 17-year-old boy allegedly entered the school and began shooting.
The shootings have cast a spotlight on the social problems of indigenous communities like La Loche, a northern village of about 3,000 located 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Since the shooting, classes at local schools have been suspended. It is unknown when they will resume.
The motive for the shooting has not been determined by the RCMP, and no information on what type of firearm was used in the shooting.