British Columbia

Parents and students struggle to heal after Abbotsford stabbing

The Abbotsford School District has been meeting with parents and students to help them heal after the tragic stabbing that killed one teenage girl and injured another.

'It will be hard but I know everyone can get through it,' says student Amsuman Nair

Parents walk to a meeting at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School Friday night following a brutal stabbing that killed a 14-year-old girl. (CBC)

The Abbotsford School District has been meeting with parents and students in an effort to help them heal after the tragic stabbing that killed one teenage girl and injured another

The district held meetings at the school Friday night and Saturday morning to answer questions and facilitate recovery from the tragedy that took place Tuesday at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.

"The first question that was asked was perhaps the most poignant and the one we spent most of the time answering," said Kevin Godden, superintendent of schools for the district.

"It was a young man who asked this question: 'Are we safe?' We all chimed in on that one and I think we spent most of the night in different ways answering that very simple question."

Godden said the staff's reaction to the stabbing, which police described as a random attack, was exemplary. 

"It's an awful thing to think, but while we did lose a child, this could have been a lot worse if it hadn't been for the quick thinking of the adults there."

Despite his confidence in how staff reacted, Godden said the district will be reviewing the incident to see if there are any additional measures that could be put in place.

Trying to understand

Kathleen Palmer was one of the parents at the meeting Friday night. She said it's been a difficult week for the community. 

"We're just trying to understand some of what's going on. It's a situation where we're never going to understand why," she said. 

"We just have to hope that the children will continue to be safe."

Kathleeen Palmer's son attends Abbotsford Senior Secondary School. She went to a meeting Friday night to facilitate healing for parents and students. (CBC)

During the meeting, more students gathered outside for a vigil in the football field — hugging, singing, and holding hands. 

"It's kind of hard to believe. And actually experiencing it, it's a lot harder than I thought it would be," said student Amsuman Nair.

'All I heard was the screaming at first'

Nair was in the school when he heard the victims screaming and his class went into lockdown. 

"All I heard was the screaming at first. And then the announcements came on, you know, code red lockdown," he said.

"At first you're wondering is it really happening to us, or is it nearby somewhere?"

Both the girls were in his class. Nair described them as helpful, happy and often dancing and bouncing around. 

Nair said he feels safe at the school, but he still feels uneasy about returning on Monday. 

"It will be hard but I know everyone can get through it," he said. 

Students gather at a vigil at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School Friday night. (CBC)

Preparing for return

Godden said that Monday will be a half-day for staff and students to ease into returning to their routines.

"Monday is going to be very difficult," he said, adding that it will likely take some students longer than others to recover. 

The healing process of staff and teachers is also under consideration, he said. Godden said he expects some teachers may not be able to return to their classrooms by Monday. 

The school has brought in additional counsellors, and a consultant who specializes in helping schools recover from tragedies has also been put in place to help staff and students.