La Loche, Sask. students haunted by school shooting

"I could just hear the crying and all the loud students running. It's just really scary," said 16-year-old Kayla Ponicappo, who hid from the shooter inside a classroom.

Students returning to high school for first time in a month

A memorial sits outside the La Loche Community School in La Loche, Sask. (Matt Kruchak/CBC)

Kayla Ponicappo can still hear the horrific scene playing out around her.

Although it's been a month since the shootings at the La Loche Community School, the Grade 11 student said she could still hear the gunshots that killed two people and injured seven, echoing through the hallway when she returned yesterday. 

16-year-old Kayla Ponicappo was in La Loche Community School when a 17-year-old opened fire in January. (Matthew Kruchak/CBC News)
"I could just hear the crying and all the loud students running. It's just really scary," said the 16-year-old, who hid from the shooter inside a classroom.

"It just brings back lots of memories and you could just remember everything and just hear stuff still."

Teachers gathered Monday for meetings at the elementary school and at the high school, where teaching assistant Marie Janvier, 21, and teacher Adam Wood, 35, were killed and seven other people were injured. On the same day, brothers Dayne, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, were found dead in a home near the school.

We just took a little sneak peek around the building — and it was no good.- Jazz Moise

High school students are expected back in class on Friday. 

The 17-year-old charged in connection with the shooting deaths made his second court appearance on Monday.

Ponicappo's sister works as at tutor at the high school, so she and her friend, Jazz Moise, 18, returned this week for the first time since the shooting took place on the afternoon of January 22.

"We just took a little sneak peek around the building — and it was no good," said Moise, who wasn't at the school when the shootings happened, but had been in class earlier that morning with the 17-year-old charged in connection with the deaths. 
La Loche Community School where a deadly shooting took place on Jan. 22, 2016. (Matt Kruchak/CBC)

'It's going to remain with us forever'

La Loche resident Wilinda Sylvester said the tragedy, which also left two brothers dead at a residence near the school, will continue to echo through the close-knit community indefinitely. 

"It's going to remain with us forever — months, weeks, years," she said.

"It's not going to be forgotten. It's not something we're going to store in the shelves. It's going to be with us regardless of when, but we do have to move on."

"We can't just stay in that spot and just live there. We have to keep moving forward, especially for our kids," Sylvester added.

Community begins healing

Kevin Janvier, the acting mayor of La Loche, said the village is doing just that. 

"We are strong people. We are Dene people," he said. 

"Unfortunately it happened and we've got to live with it. We'll heal."

Students Kayla Ponicappo and Jazz Moise have mixed feelings about going back to school in the building where two staff members were killed. (Devin Heroux/CBC)
We are strong people. We are Dene people.- Kevin Janvier, acting mayor

Ponicappo and Moise said they've seen the community slowly beginning to heal. The recent youth festival — which included a fishing derby, free public skating, events at the hall and movie nights — helped bring people together, the friends said.

"I just saw so many smiles on people's faces, which made me think they're having a good time," Moise said.

The Grade 10 student said he expects to feel better and safer about returning to the school on Friday because he'll be surrounded by lots of friends, and there will be an RCMP officer in the building. 

Ponicappo won't be returning to school until Monday. She's playing in a volleyball tournament in Saskatoon. 

"I'll probably feel better after playing a weekend of volleyball."