Canada·CBC Forum

Your ideas for what can be done to help La Loche

Residents of the northern Saskatchewan town of La Loche, where a teen has been charged with numerous counts of first-degree and attempted murder following a school shooting, say more resources are needed to fight suicide among young people. CBC Forum wants to know what you think is needed to address the problems in La Loche.
The community of La Loche, Sask., was the scene of a school shooting Friday. A 17-year-old boy has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. (Matt Kruchak/CBC)

Residents of the northern Saskatchewan town of La Loche say more resources are needed to fight suicide among young people.

A 17-year-old has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder following a school shooting.

La Loche, a Dene community with a population of about 3,000, has the highest suicide rate in Saskatchewan, three times the national average. 

Kevin Janvier, La Loche's acting mayor, was asked during a press conference Sunday afternoon what the town needed following the tragedy. He responded, "We need lots of resources."

La Loche resident Don Herman said young people need to be taught the old ways. He said modern life helps contribute to the high suicide rate.

Here are some of your comments on what is needed to address the problems in La Loche.

(Note that usernames are not necessarily the commenters' names. Some comments have been edited for length, to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to read the original comment.)

Many of our readers spoke of the need for mental health services. 

"Healing is not a one-time event. As a psychologist and social worker, I have had the opportunity to work with people in various stages of healing in relation to trauma. In my many years of practice, I have also had the chance to work with indigenous communities and the wisdom for healing is within the community. If the community identifies that they need more resources, then they do." — patricia.

"Saskatchewan spends only five per cent of the total health budget on mental health. The national average is seven per cent. And that is lower than almost all other developed countries. My question is why the government bothered to commission a mental health report if they had no intentions of acting on any of the recommendations?" — Prairie Gurl.

"Mental Health Services in Saskatchewan are pitiful. I have been waiting for a new psychiatrist since 2010. It took me finally finding a new family doctor… to finally get some additional support. I'm in Regina. Imagine how hard it is in La Loche." — DEVOE

Some said larger issues within First Nations need to be addressed. 

"I think that in any community, change and development is best started from the bottom up. People living in La Loche are more than capable, and know what they need. Governments should respectfully listen and be willing to provide 'lots of resources' and support, rather than impose ideas. Let's start listening to people rather than telling them what they need." — Adam

"As someone who has worked on reserves, the best way to fix this problem would be to discuss the integration of First Nations into society, and get them off of reserves. I would not wish living on a reserve to anyone." — Mooseroni

"La Loche's loss is an open manifestation of the larger issue of what First Nation communities have endured over many years of indifference and neglect from federal and provincial levels of government… A national plan for improving living conditions from housing, water to mental health care is needed, and not just for La Loche." — Kate

"Implore the federal government to immediately invest infrastructure funding in First Nations communities across Canada. Invest in safe water services. Invest in gymnasium and covered ice rink facilities to provide healthy activities for youth and to help instill some hope for their future. Partner with universities and colleges and sports associations to implement practicums for students to work in First Nations Communities as part of degree programs and to encourage mentorship. The issues in La Roche are only the 'tip of the iceberg.'" — Larry Ransom

Some said they disagreed with the suggestion that the school needed to be torn down.

"I think it's disgusting the way this heinous crime, perpetrated by a 17-year-old, is being used as a fund raiser by the mayor of La Loche and other aboriginal leaders. Oh yeah, let's tear down a high school and rebuild it; that's the cure. Let's throw millions (nay, billions) of dollars at it. That's what worked in the past, didn't it?" — Blacky

"Perhaps a memorial would be more appropriate than ripping down and rebuilding the school. This could be added on to built with in the existing school." — West View

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