La Loche Mayor Kevin Janvier says one thing needs to happen for the community to start healing.
“I want that school to be rebuilt … torn down, rebuilt, a whole new structure … because of the trauma that happened,” Janvier said after a community meeting on Sunday.
Area MP Georgina Jolibois agreed with Janvier’s plan,
“There’s so much pain, so much trauma, we need to rebuild,” she said. “The families are hurting, the youth are hurting, the community is hurting, the north is hurting – so certainly the right kind of help is very, very important.”
The tragic and devastating shooting in La Loche on Friday left the community flooded with grief, but after a meeting between local, provincial, federal, and First Nations’ leaders, there was talk of hope.
Premier Brad Wall flew up to the small community Sunday afternoon for a in the town’s Ducharme Elementary School with local and national leaders.
Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief, Perry Bellegarde, is credited with talking about hope behind the closed doors of the meeting, but almost every person who spoke afterward made sure to mention it.
“We start talking about our young people to have hope for the future,” Bellegarde said.
Bellegarde praised the RCMP and first-responders, and that all hands were on deck from every level of government. He said he hopes that together, they can help better the quality of life there, and to stop such a tragedy from happening again.
“And how do you have a long-term strategy to end violence? That’s the ultimate goal,” Bellegarde said.
Bellegarde wants solutions, not just for La Loche, but for communities across the country facing similar problems.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Wall was asked whether the town has hope.
“If there isn’t, everyone understands that that’s what’s needed. For the young people in this community, for the people that were in that school before Friday, and that’ll go back at some point, and this elementary school behind us, that’s what’s needed,” he replied.
Saskatchewan member of parliament, and federal Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale called the shooting a tragedy that reaches far beyond the community of La Loche.
“The whole challenge here is building hope, re-establishing hope. And we have to do it together. We have to do it in a nation-to-nation spirit … and we have to do it by listening from the bottom-up, not imposing from the top-down,” said Goodale.
Jolibois also sat in on the meeting, she said the families, the community, and all of the north is in pain.
“Hope is really important to us. The community is fairly strong community, and I keep repeating that. Hope is always something that keeps us going in the midst of tragedy.”
Wall said they spoke about short and long-term needs and planning for the community. That the supports would be in La Loche for as long as they were needed. And that long-term issues need to be addressed – specifically, education like more technical and trade opportunities for students, infrastructure like the road to Fort McMurray, and the economy.
“Those are quality of life issues, with respect to the education system, and the healthcare system.”
The province had been trying to increase supports to northern Saskatchewan, said Wall, but he said, obviously, more needs to be done.
Goodale said the federal government wants to find meaningful solutions for the community that will last.
Securing the safety of the community was the first challenged, according to Goodale, and the next will be dealing with the trauma. He said they need to make sure the community gets their feeling of safety back.