Sask. government giving support to La Loche after shooting

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is in La Loche today making a number of announcements, including an affordable housing project and new suicide prevention worker, months after shootings at a home and a school in January rocked the community.

Premier announces affordable housing project, suicide prevention worker and changes to education

Premier Brad Wall announced support for La Loche, Sask., after a shooting in January. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Premier Brad Wall is in La Loche, Sask., today making a number of announcements, including an affordable housing project and new suicide prevention worker, months after shootings at a home and a school in January rocked the community. 

"Since the terrible events of last January, the people of La Loche have inspired us with their resilience, unity and optimism," Wall said.

Most notably, the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation is starting construction of a 14-unit affordable rental housing project in La Loche in the village's new subdivision. The federal and provincial governments are contributing $1.4 million towards the project.

"The community is pleased with the province's response to our tragedy and we are grateful for the work that has been done to date with respect to the priority areas of education, health, housing and infrastructure," Village of La Loche Mayor Kevin Janvier said.

Currently there are two mental health counsellors and two addictions workers that are providing services in the community of La Loche. The health region has also hired a suicide prevention worker who will also provide services through the Friendship Centre. This service will start on Aug. 17. 

Since the January shooting that left four people dead and seven others wounded, North Saskatchewan Victim Services has supported more than 250 victims, witnesses and other members of the community traumatized by the event. 

Changes to education

There are key changes taking place around education in the northern Saskatchewan community as well. 

The Ministry of Economy is currently working with Northlands College and Dumont Technical Institute to offer new adult basic education and skills training programs in La Loche. 

This includes Northlands College offering 15 adult learners the opportunity to work towards their grade 12 credential while receiving skills training in heavy equipment, truck and transport, and automotive mechanics trades.

Twenty adults in the community will also be able to earn their Grade 12 credential through the Dumont Technical Institute.

Flowers and photos are laid at the La Loche school memorial. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

These programs will begin this September and will be funded by the provincial government.

"This is just the beginning," said Janvier. "We look forward to continuing this relationship to ensure that the needs of our residents are being met."

The Ministry of Education is working with the community and the Northern Lights School Division to develop the 2016-17 school plan, which will aim to improve outcomes for students. The Ministries of Advanced Education and Education are partnering with the First Nations University of Canada to offer a new Dene Teacher Education Program for up to 30 students over four years, training local university students to teach local students.

"Our government promised to support the community as it recovers and today we continue to meet that commitment," said Wall. 

"Working with local leaders, local institutions and the federal government, we are investing in a range of programming that will foster hope and opportunity and enable more residents to lead independent, self-sufficient lives. Together, we are building a stronger La Loche."