There was a lot of ground to cover in La Loche on Wednesday morning as a panel of community leaders gave an update on how they’re recovering from last month’s tragic shooting.
The panel discussion with school leadership, the RCMP, acting mayor Kevin Janvier, and others was held because “we owe it to the people of Saskatchewan and the people of Canada for all the support we’ve received here in La Loche over the last month,” said Northern Lights School Division’s education director Ken Ladouceur.
He was blunt while telling national media agencies how tough it’s been for the people of La Loche to deal with the attention they’ve gotten in the past month.
“The community of La Loche is a very gently, quiet people and it’s intrusive. And you can even feel some of the tensions from within this group,” Ladouceur said.
Some of the tense feelings come from the reality that the extra help in the community right now, won’t be there forever.
Assistant principal Leanne Gailey from the Ducharme Building, which serves students from Kindergarten to Grade 6, explains the strength comes from within.
“Yes, we are getting all the supports right now but we are strong people,” she said. “With that, that’s all the supports that we need. And we are the ones that are going to have to deal with the aftermath in 20 years’ time and we have a good group of people who’s gonna make sure that happens.”
For Gailey’s co-worker, vice principal Erin Trotechaud spoke of the healing effect that returning to school has had on the staff and students at Ducharme.
“It’s something about the building on Monday before they got there where there was still a heavy presence, if I could say that, it didn’t feel like a school. And then it’s amazing how when you fill it with children and there’s laughter and there’s smiles it just kind of washes it away. It was really beautiful,” Trotechaud said.
Right now, there’s a lot of change going on in both schools. The high school will have an RCMP school resource officer and both the Ducharme Building and Dene Building (the high school where the shooting occurred) will have security.
The entrances are being reduced in both buildings, and the high school will also have a completely re-done entrance.
The high school will have some satellite classes for those who aren’t ready to come back. They’ll also have four periods per day instead of five, and have a breakfast at school each morning.
The high school’s Greg Hatch says his first moment back in the school wasn’t easy.
“As I got close to the front of the school I felt nervous, definitely a fear, probably lasted a couple of minutes. I was okay, or at least I thought I was okay, think I’m okay. But now I feel very comfortable entering the school, leaving the school. I go in early and I feel comfortable and I’m in there by myself,” he said.
A walk this afternoon will see high school students, staff, and community members reclaim their school.