Residents, in Shock, Pay Respects to Canada Shooting Victims

Brad Wall, Perry Bellegarde, Kevin Janvier, Ralph Goodale, Georgina Jolibois

La Loche Mayor Kevin Janvier, from left, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and MLA Georgina Jolibois lay flowers at a memorial in La Loche, Canada, on Jan. 24.

Photographer: Jason Franson/AP Photo
  • Four dead, seven hurt in one of nation's deadliest attacks
  • Saskatchewan premier to visit scene of `unimaginable' tragedy

Townspeople gathered at a church in La Loche, northern Saskatchewan, on Sunday to pay respects to the victims of one of the deadliest school shootings in Canada in almost three decades.

Four people were killed and seven were injured Friday in the remote rural town by a 17-year-old boy who opened fire at a high school in the Dene native community of about 3,000 people, authorities said.

The incident was “unspeakably horrible” and “unimaginable,” Premier Brad Wall said Saturday at a briefing in Regina, the provincial capital. An investigation is continuing, and the province’s social services department is providing help for those affected, according to Wall, who arrived in La Loche on Sunday afternoon to help with the response. Flags were lowered across the province out of respect for the victims.

“Saskatchewan has a great tradition of helping people out,” Wall said. “We’re going to work very closely with the community for as long as it takes.”

The suspect, who can’t be identified because he’s a minor, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven of attempted murder after authorities said he opened fire Friday afternoon at a high school.

The deaths occurred at the school and at a residential location, Brenda Butterworth-Carr, Saskatchewan commanding officer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said at Saturday’s briefing.

Adam Wood, 35, a teacher, and Marie Janvier, 21, a teaching assistant, were shot dead at the school while brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, aged 17 and 13 respectively, died after being shot at a home in the town. Seven other people injured in the shooting had been hospitalized, Butterworth-Carr said.

“This is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. “We are grieving with the community.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer the families and friends of the victims our deepest condolences on this darkest of days,” Trudeau said in a statement on Friday. “Our hearts and prayers are also with those injured in the attack, that they may have a full and speedy recovery.”

The shooting was one of the worst involving a school in Canada since 1989, when a man killed 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal.

La Loche is located about 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Regina and just east of the oil-sands region of neighboring Alberta. The town is home to Canada’s largest population of Dene, indigenous people who have lived in the area for as long as 10,000 years, according to the University of Saskatchewan.

The community was first connected to the rest of the province by a road in the 1960s, and like many isolated parts of northern Canada, depends on nearby resource extraction projects to provide employment and economic opportunities.

Separately, one person died and four were injured in Toronto early Sunday after a string of shootings in Canada’s largest city, according to local news reports.

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