The Current

La Loche, Sask., services still lacking 1 year after shooting, say residents

It's been a year since a teenaged shooter killed four people in La Loche, Sask. At the time, concern and pledges to help were pouring in but now the people in the small Northern community say they feel abandoned and need help to heal. What happened?
The money, concern and pledges to help came pouring in after the La Loche, Sask., shooting a year ago but now residents say they feel abandoned. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

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People are still struggling to get access to services, almost one year after a deadly shooting shocked the remote community of La Loche, Sask., according to a fly-in psychiatrist.

"There's a lot of trauma that's happened to people living up North."

Dr. Sara Dungavell flies into the community once a month to deliver psychiatric counselling. 

She tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that many members of the community need  access to treatment.

"[There is] a lot of anxiety. A lot of depression. A fair bit of PTSD."

On Jan. 22, 2016,  teen brothers Drayden and Dayne Fontaine, as well as teacher's assistant Marie Janvier, and teacher Adam Wood, were fatally shot. A teen boy from the community was arrested, and pleaded guilty to the deaths in October. 
Russell Thomas painted Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, two brothers who died in the La Loche shooting. (Submitted by Russell Thomas)

But according to Dr. Dungavell, many of the patients she sees are dealing with trauma unrelated to the shooting.

"What I'm seeing is also that there is current trauma going on. A ridiculously high level of my patients in my northern clinics have lost someone in a fire, have lost someone in stabbings, have lost people because of drownings," says Dr. Dungavell.

When the national spotlight shone on La Loche last year, it exposed a community desperately in need of services. Recently, community leaders spoke out about local services that remain inconsistent, and the distances many community members must travel for care can be as much as six hours driving to Saskatoon.

Dr. Dungavell worries about the counselling that is available locally.

"One of the problems is that a lot of these counsellors are either family friends or related to other people in the community so it makes it an uncomfortable experience for people to reach out to because it doesn't feel private."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs Phyllis Longobardi in La Loche, Sask., Jan. 29, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Dr. Dungavell says she would like to see the government step in and help resource better access to care.

"We live in Canada and I think that means that one of our values is that we take care of each other," she tells Tremonti.

"Just because it's inconvenient to take care of people who are living rural, who are living northern, who have a lower socio-economic status, who happen to be First Nations — that doesn't mean that we get to not take care of them."

"That's not acceptable."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post 

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Sujata Berry.