All kinds of government support is being offered to help the people of La Loche recover after the devastating school shooting on Friday.
The Ministry of Education is working with neighbouring school divisions and assessing the need to bring in members of critical incident response teams to help backfill positions in La Loche. A crisis response team will be set up at the elementary school, where counseling services will be available to those who need it.
The ministry has also sent a memo out to principals and staff at schools throughout Saskatchewan and across North America serving as a heads-up for the potential of copycat incidents.
“There generally is a heightened sense, a heightened time period right now because of the incident that occurred and it’s just asking everybody to watch for things just to ensure if you see a change in behaviour, just to be prepared for it and to watch, and to offer help wherever you can,” said Kevin Gabel, with the programs branch of the Education Ministry.
Currently, there are 13 mental health and addictions workers in the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority which serves La Loche. More temporary front-line healthcare support is being offered from the Health Ministry, both from a medical standpoint and a mental health standpoint as well. The ministry is reminding people who are feeling distressed about the 811 health line which is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A total of nine staff members representing a victims’ services program are speaking with friends and family of the victims. Five traveled to La Loche from surrounding areas and are at the elementary school as part of the critical incident centre. Four additional staff members are in Saskatoon, assisting the family of victims who are in hospital.
In terms of social services assistance, financial aid is being offered for family and friends of victims for things like travel costs.
La Loche normally has two social services employees who work in the child and family programs department. However, Natalie Huber with the Ministry of Social Services said those positions are being supported out of Buffalo Narrows due to vacancies.
Many of the various branches of the government are still learning what the community’s needs are, and will respond accordingly once that information is gathered.