Brenda Janvier and her granddaughter Zaila Kokan at the Kids First office in La Loche on Jan. 9. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski
As the anniversary of the La Loche mass shooting looms closer, a number of community-minded residents are speaking up about how the past year has gone for them.
Brenda Janvier is among those worried about how local residents are rebounding after the mass shooting that killed four people in La Loche last January. She has grandchildren who attend high school at the La Loche Community School’s Dene Building, which is where the shooter opened fire and killed two staff members after killing two teen boys in a home in the community.
“It’s pretty hard for those that are directly impacted by that day. We’re trying to cope as best as we can and I know with resources not always readily available in the community, it makes it harder,” Janvier said.
Specifically, she said she knows school staff who were present during the shooting who now need to drive a long way – either to Prince Albert, Saskatoon or North Battleford - to receive extra counselling.
Janvier sits on school-community council and is a part of an education subcommittee that was formed after the shooting.
On Monday, she was at the Dene Building where local leadership held a news conference to voice their concerns.
Community member Violet Lemaigre also sat in on the conference, and agrees with what leaders are saying about a lack of long-term solutions for the outstanding social issues that have come to light with the national media and government attention La Loche has received.
“You move on and go on with your daily life because that’s what you do. But when it comes to really dealing with the issues, that’s not happening. We’re all, speaking for myself, in survival mode.”
She came to the event to see for herself what has been happening in the community as a result of the events of Jan. 22 of last year, and remains critical of what leadership is doing.
“We get on with our lives because what else do we do, right? But what else is there in our community to help us recover?” she asked.
“From the sounds of it, a lot has been happening, just it hasn’t been made known to the community.”
At the conference, the friendship centre's Leonard Montgrand said the people of La Loche need more than just government.
“We can’t depend on one or two individuals to make a change in the whole community. It takes a community to change a community and we have to buy into that concept as community members,” he said.
Lemaigre agrees, but since the immediate aftermath of the meeting she hasn't seen much participation at meetings she's attended.
“Most recently there was a meeting in regards to suicide prevention. There was just a handful there,” she said.
Janvier said she is “dreading” heading into 22nd, but “at the same time it would be good to see us move beyond that day.”
The province says deputy ministers have been planning to visit La Loche next Monday to hold meetings on housing, infrastructure, education and health.