The Current

La Loche, Sask., struggles to cope with tragic mass shooting

It has been a weekend of mourning, disbelief and a multitude of questions, in tiny La Loche, Sask., after a 17-year-old boy was charged in Friday's mass shooting. Today we're asking how the tight-knit community is coping and what it needs now.

View Segment Transcript

There are about 3,000 people in the northern community of La Loche, Sask. Everyone is still reeling after Friday's mass shooting where four people — two teenage brothers, a teacher and an educational assistant — were killed. Seven others are in hospital with gunshot wounds.

I went to the main doors of the school and he walked out right when he seen me, and I was still watching him loading the gun, and I ran across the school yelling. I just ran as fast as I could and I just stood there watching him shoot the first guy.-  Eye witness to La Roche school shooting, a 15-year-old student 

Kaleisha Janvier remembers her cousin, Marie

7 years ago
Duration 1:13
Kaleisha Janvier is a Grade 11 student at the school in La Loche, Sask., where her cousin, Marie, was killed.

A 17-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. He cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance this afternoon.

Residents console each other at the memorial near the La Loche Community School in La Loche, Sask., on Sunday Jan. 24, 2016. The shooting on Friday left four people dead and seven injured with gunshot wounds. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The tight-knit community is facing a week like no other as the process of grieving takes hold.

Families remember La Loche, Sask. shooting victims

CBC national reporter Erin Collins spent time in La Loche this past weekend. He says the community is very close, everyone knows each other, many are even related, so when a tragedy like this happens, no one is untouched. Collins also reported the number of RCMP officers and journalists taking up space in the remote community is a very hard adjustment for residents during this time. No one is use to being in the spotlight.

Members of the community come out to watch Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall speak in La Loche, Sask., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press )

Alcohol and drug problems is a big issue in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche but most people are afraid to talk about it. 

The community dealers know, the cops knows the people are in the surrounding area knows what's going on in this community regarding drugs and alcohol. How do you fix that?-  Don Herman, life-long resident of La Loche, and uncle of  two brothers killed, Dayne and Drayden Fontaine

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has pledged more resources for La Loche as it comes to terms with Friday's shooting.  The tragedy has shone a light on longstanding issues faced by the community. Including the highest suicide rate in the province, and one that is three times the national average. 

Connie Cheecham says one of the root causes of the pain being experienced by the community will take a paradigm shift to fix. She is a human resources co-ordinator with the Clearwater River Dene Nation. She says the  youth in La Loche need more resources, including ways to connect. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino, Pacinthe Mattar and Winnipeg Network Producer Suzanne Dufresne.