The community of La Loche is refusing to give up its light after the dark and traumatic events that happened inside its high school last month.
On Wednesday afternoon, the small northern village hosted a solidarity walk that brought out hundreds of residents.
Students carried motivational banners that read things like “Respect Each Other” and “Courage” in English and Dene.
Many teens who attend the Dene Building, where La Loche’s Grade 7 to 12 students go to school, caught up with their teachers for the first time since a shooter entered the school.
Those simple conversations, normally commonplace, have extra meaning now as they show students are ready and willing to return to class.
The walk started at La Loche’s village office and stopped traffic with an RCMP-escorted path down the main road to the Dene Building.
A group of women in the community added a somber vibe to the walk as they recited prayers, but there was also a youthful energy as hundreds of Kindergarten to Grade 6 students from the Ducharme Building joined.
The kids and teachers giggled and were gently reminded to use the buddy system as the wound their way towards the high school.
Once inside the school, all media was asked to put away their cameras and recorders to participate in a rendition of “Lean On Me”.
They also sang “This Little Light of Mine”. Elders ae calling on the light within each of the kids to help the community heal.
Tears were shed but there’s also a sense that the fear some associate with the building, is now fading.
One mother joined her 16-year-old daughter who recounted her experience when the shooter entered the school.
This was a big step, considering the teen hadn’t originally planned on entering the building.
Her mother said she’s much more comfortable with the idea of classes resuming.
For those who are ready, school is back in session at the Dene Building on Friday.