Tuesday was a day of banding together in La Loche, but banding against the media.
Many in the small northern community said they feel national reports have misrepresented the community. In response to that, they’re closing doors to media as they hold a community fundraiser.
Vehicles filled the entire block around La Loche’s arena as people dropped off and delivered auction items and donations for the event going on at the arena and local radio station, MBC Radio affiliate CHPN.
Inside the building, the unity of the Dene community showed. The phones rang off the hook, and people cycled in and out with donations for the massive event. People of all ages – young and elderly – and teachers from the school where the shooting took place were among those to drop off donations.
For three days straight, CHPN and the community have been auctioning off everything from cheesecake to quilts.
On Monday, the live auction raised $10,000 for Adam Wood’s funeral expenses. Wood, a teacher from Ontario and teacher’s assistant Marie Janvier were shot to death while in school.
Before the school shooting, Dayne Fontaine, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, had earlier died in their home. On Tuesday the auction raised money for their funeral expenses. The boys will be laid to rest on Saturday.
It seems nearly every moment of every day for almost all of La Loche’s residents is revolving around Friday’s traumatic events.
Earlier on Tuesday, parents in the community attended a meeting about last week’s traumatic events. In days before there have been vigils, community healing circles, and more.
In that parent’s meeting, residents were told not to speak to media. Many are upset with the way reporters have portrayed the community. Signs on the radio station’s door reading “no media” sent out a strong message.
While people have not spoken on the record about their issues, they did say La Loche’s residents are upset with the negative tone that coverage of their community is taking.
One man pointed out that TV news keeps showing video of one run-down house, but that it doesn’t represent the entire community. In fact, there is an entire block of new housing construction underway right now.
Some headlines highlight the reason people are feeling hostile – a headline The New York Times reads that La Loche “has a bleak history.” The National Post said La Loche is “a town without hope.”
There have also been unconfirmed reports that newspeople had pretended to be victims services workers in order to get access to information. Reporters with CBC and the StarPhoenix expressed disgust at the idea, and acknowledged the kind of distrust that would lead to for local residents.
There is no such distrust showing between the community members, who are showing a united front in the face of adversity.
CHPN’s broadcast was an indicator of the intimate relationships between La Loche’s residents. On-air announcers joked with each other as they described the items up for auction. The variety of offerings – from a silver ring, to a cabinet, to a pizza and cake – showed how people dug deep to donate anything they could.