Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay remembers La Loche, Sask. shooting victim, Adam Wood

An Ontario teacher killed in a mass shooting in La Loche, Sask. is being remembered in Thunder Bay.

Adam Wood was a graduate of Lakehead University and active contributor to community

Teacher Adam Wood died Friday in the school shooting in La Loche, Sask., his family confirmed Saturday. The young man was originally from Uxbridge, Ont., and had moved in the fall to start his teaching career. Wood attended Lakehead University, where he took the Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Concurrent Education program. (Facebook)

An Ontario teacher killed in a mass shooting in La Loche, Sask. is being remembered in Thunder Bay.

Adam Wood, 35, was just months into a teaching job at the La Loche Community School when he and a teacher's aide were gunned down. Seven other people were injured at the school and two brothers were killed at a separate residence. 

Wood attended Lakehead University where he took the Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Concurrent Education program.

While in the program, Wood ran the Roots to Harvest community gardening initiative for two summers.

Over the weekend Roots to Harvest issued a statement on its Facebook page. The statement paid tribute to Woods' important contribution to Roots to Harvest, as well as personal reflections.

"Adam should have lived a long and eventful life. He was the best combination of qualities. He was a goofball, he was an old soul, a pioneer at heart, and a flippin' hard worker."

But his time outside wasn't only in the garden, he was also involved with the Northshore Telemark Ski School in Thunder Bay and the outdoor recreation society at the university.

A local church, where Wood attended, also put out a request on social media for people to share their tributes. Grassroots Church is putting together a memory book for Wood's family and invited people to write or paste their thoughts and memories while Adam was in Thunder Bay.

Wood's family said they hope the tragedy will lead to "lasting systemic change" in the remote northern community.

'Why did it have to be Adam?'

On Sunday, Wood's family, who live in Uxbridge, Ont., issued a statement saying the shootings offer an "opportunity to examine ourselves and hopefully, come out better and stronger as a community and a nation.

"We find ourselves in moments of despair thinking, 'Why did it have to be Adam?' But really, the question is, 'Why did this have to happen?'" the statement read.

A fundraising campaign has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.

The predominantly Dene community located more than seven hours northeast of Saskatoon has unemployment and suicide rates considerably above the provincial average.

In a 4.5 year period from August 2005 to January 2010, 18 people ended their lives in the community of about 3,000, while many more attempted suicide. A 2008 report from the area's health authority said the suicide rate was about three times the provincial average.

Residents of La Loche, Sask., gathered Sunday for a service dedicated to the victims of Friday's shootings. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Earlier Sunday, people packed into the community's tiny church for a service dedicated to the victims of the shootings

A 17-year-old male has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and one count of unauthorized possession of a firearm in relation to the shootings. 

Full statement from Adam Wood's family:

"On Christmas day, we sat around the kitchen table for one of the last meals as a whole family, and we spoke about La Loche. Adam shared the joys and struggles of being a teacher, his passion for his work, and the potential of his students. Needless to say, we are devastated. We find ourselves in moments of despair thinking, "Why did it have to be Adam?" But really, the question is, "Why did this have to happen?" It is in these moments, when tragedy strikes, that we are able to stop and consider life: it's frailty, challenges, its laughter, and its tears. It is in these moments we are given the opportunity to examine ourselves and hopefully, come out better and stronger as a community and a nation.  We feel sadness and remorse but rarely do we use that to fuel change.                               

As communities come together to support one another, we must ask how to prevent anyone from experiencing a loss of this kind. Rather than looking for someone to blame, or coming up with outsider opinions of reasons why this occurred, we must stop and listen to the voices of La Loche. The leaders and members of the community know what types of support and changes are needed.  Our responsibility as a nation is to listen and respond to create lasting systemic change. 

Today La Loche and surrounding Dene communities are coming together in candlelight vigils to mourn, to grieve, and to envision a different future. That is where the story is.  With family and friends, we are sharing stories and memories about who Adam was and the life he lived. But the real news story is the loss, grief, and challenges faced by those in La Loche and surrounding Dene Nations."


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