When the news cameras and microphones were put away on Saturday, the emotions of La Loche were laid bare.
Tearful guests from all over – some from the northern village, and others who have traveled from Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and British Columbia – came together to say their goodbyes to Marie Janvier.
The 21-year-old teacher’s aide was working in La Loche’s high school when a shooter burst in – shooting and killing both her and Uxbridge, Ontario teacher Adam Wood.
Later, the discovery was made of two brothers – 17-year-old Dayne and 14-year-old Drayden Fontaine – in a home in La Loche.
Before Saturday’s solemn and tearful funeral at La Loche’s Our Lady of the Visitation Church, hundreds of people attended the community hall where the open casket gave them a chance to look at Marie for the last time.
Marie’s grief-stricken family asked, in Dene, for people to make their way to the church so they could have time alone before the ceremony.
Saturday was the first of four funerals that will lay to rest the victims of La Loche’s school shooting.
All media had been asked to give Marie’s family privacy. MBC received permission from Archbishop Murray Chatlain to attend and listen to the words spoken at Marie’s funeral.
Her aunt Diane delivered a eulogy in both Dene and English, telling stories about her niece’s deep compassion for animals and her sense of humour.
Marie lived with Diane in Saskatoon for a brief time in recent years. Diane spoke directly to her community, saying Marie’s life may have been short, but it wasn’t for nothing.
“It’s not for nothing, it’s not in vain. We all love Marie, even when she came into this world. There was something special about her and everyone in here who’s met her know that. She possessed a light that I’ve not seen in anyone else, ever. If we all lived half of that, this community would be a better place,” Diane said.
“If we tried to live like her a little bit, we’d get along better.”
Marie was a funny girl and a generous person, Diane said. When Marie had a nice job and was making good money, she spent almost two months picking Christmas gifts for her family, friends, and for little kids. Diane says that year, she carefully wrapped hundreds of gifts.
The anguish in La Loche’s Catholic church showed on people’s faces, and as those at the mic paused to gather themselves in between sentences.
The Archibishop’s sermon didn’t mince words. Chatlain said only a few days earlier, he too was overcome with the anger that many in La Loche are feeling.
He told the hundreds who filled the church, violence is not the right reaction to that anger. Chatlain said those feelings are okay to have, but that passion needs to be channeled towards something positive.
Among the educators, family members and family friends at Marie’s funeral, were many RCMP officers wearing ceremonial regalia.
The public has already heard of the forgiveness shown by Marie’s family, and the other families who were impacted by the shooting from a teen in their own community. Chatlain touched on that as well, acknowledging that forgiveness will be easier some days than others, but it is important.
Even a room filled with those who loved Marie and who are feeling the hurt of one person’s actions, paused to pray for the shooter and his victims.