As the sun set in Regina on Wednesday night, a crowd of hundreds of people began lighting candles as a sign of respect for the victims of the La Loche shooting.
The vigil was organized by teachers, but many community members, students, police officers and politicians joined the walk from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum to the steps of the Saskatchewan legislature.
“The tragedy is so close to home, being in Saskatchewan, and being a teacher – dealing with different situations and different demographics – it was important for me to be here to support,” said Lyndsay Moskal.
She admits she never thought a school shooting like this one would happen in Saskatchewan. She says she felt shock and extreme sorrow when she heard the news that four people were killed on Friday.
Moskal also has a message for the families, teachers and students in La Loche.
“We’re here praying with you, and hopefully you get the support you need and we’re thinking of you,” Moskal said.
Karen McGregor brought her son and boyfriend to the vigil to show support for people in La Loche. From the capital city to a remote northern village, she said it is all one community.
“Working in the school system here, I just thought that, I couldn’t imagine what they went through and just thought it was a terrible tragedy,” she said.
“I guess it could happen anywhere but you just hope for the best that it would never happen here, and unfortunately it has.”
McGregor also wants people in La Loche to know that they have people across the province who are thinking of them.
Brittani Neufeld, Caitlin Gammel, and Brittani Bruder are all third year education students at the University of Regina and came together to pay their respects at the vigil. They also say the news of the shooting hit closer to home than other stories of school shootings in the U.S.
“It shocked me first, that it happened in Saskatchewan, I mean you hear about these things, but it’s usually a distant, far off place,” Bruder commented.
“It humanized it more, it made it personal because they were close to our age,” Gammel said, referring to the young teacher and education assistant who were shot at the school on Friday.
She says she hopes the teachers and students at the school in La Loche can come together to find away to move forward.
The crowd was silent in reflection as a representative from the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation described speaking with the mother and fiancée of Adam Wood who had moved from Ontario to teach in La Loche. Other speakers talked about the calling to be a teacher, and the belief that school is a safe place to learn.
As they grieved for those who experienced this tragedy first – hand, speakers said blame and shame have no place here. The message was one of overwhelming support and a glimmer of hope to build a better future.
The vigil closed with the crowd singing “Lean on Me” and placing flickering candles in the snow by the steps of the legislature.