Saskatchewan

Sask. MLAs in La Loche for update on community's state following shooting

Six MLAs, including Deputy Premier Don Morgan, were in La Loche on Wednesday to meet with the community and its leaders.

6 MLAs were in La Loche to meet with community and its leaders

Deputy Premier Don Morgan said he hopes to discuss with La Loche community leaders about what is and isn't working in the community's healing journey and what needs to be improved. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

It has been more than a year since the village of La Loche was devastated by the loss of four lives at the hands of a teen shooter.

Six MLAs, including Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Don Morgan, gathered in La Loche on Wednesday to meet with the community and its leaders. 

​As the community continues its healing journey, the MLAs will meet with the mayor, town council, staff of both schools in the village and the school community councils. 

​The ministers of health, social services, advanced education, justice, social services and government relations will also be meeting with people in La Loche.

The group of politicians is not in the community to make a new announcement, rather to see what else can be done, if what has been done is working and what isn't working, Morgan said. 

"When we had previous visits with the community here, they made it abundantly clear they felt it was important that they chart their own path forward," Morgan added, saying the province and the federal government would be there to provide support and resources but the community would rely on its own direction and planning. 

Completion of road to Fort McMurray, Alta.

Morgan mentioned the province and the community will discuss the possibility of lobbying the federal government to completing a road link between La Loche and Fort McMurray, Alta. (Don Somers/CBC)

Morgan said the group will discuss a road link which would allow residents of La Loche to travel to Fort McMurray, Alta. for services, jobs and opportunities needed — a trip which Morgan said would take approximately an hour by road. 

"We want to reach out to the federal government, to the prime minister, and urge them in the strongest terms to try and complete the road link between La Loche and Fort McMurray," Morgan said.

Morgan said the link extends to the Alta. border but not beyond that. Morgan said when he first made the trip to the northern community, trips to Fort McMurray were made by aircraft.

When Premier Brad Wall, Canada's Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale and Assembly of First Nation Chief Perry Bellegarde met with the community following the shooting, Morgan said the issue of the road link was raised then. 

"It was something that came up from within the community," Morgan said.

Other areas of concern 

Housing is one of the issues Morgan wishes to know more about, which falls under the ministry of social services. 

Morgan said planning money has been allocated for renovations to the high school where the shooting occurred. He also mentioned counselling services which have been provided to the community and whether or not the services have been as effective as they can or should be. 

"We've had counsellors continuously so I guess my question is are we not doing it at the right time, in the right places?" Morgan said.

He added the province would like to find out what the province can do differently to address concerns raised by the community in January. 

Morgan mentioned youth suicides in northern communities and highlighted the need for mental health and addiction support services.