Four people are confirmed dead, at least two critically injured and a suspect in custody after a shooting at the La Loche Community School, attended by numerous students from Clearwater River Dene Nation in northern Saskatchewan.
The horrific events began unfolding on the afternoon of January 22 and were still being sorted out late Friday afternoon. The alarm was raised at around 1 p.m., said Ken Ladouceur, director of education at the Northern Lights School Division, the schools’ district, when he received a call from the school principal. The campus consists of two buildings, one for high school and one for elementary, with about 900 total students. The shooting took place at the high school, but the elementary school and another one in town were put on lockdown as well, according to reports.
“Right now, La Loche is devastated,” Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark told The Star Phoenix. “Both Clearwater and La Loche, a lot of people are in shock. This is something that you only see on TV most of the time.”
At a hurriedly convened press conference from the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the situation "every parent's worst nightmare” and expressed his sympathy and solidarity.
“We all grieve with and stand with the community of La Loche and the province of Saskatchewan on this terrible and tragic day,” he said, according to CTV News.
About 3,000 people live in La Loche, many of them Dene, and about 800 in Clearwater River Dene Nation, which lies alongside.
Indigenous leaders expressed sorrow and disbelief.
“We are in shock and in disbelief upon hearing about the tragedy in La Loche. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, the children, the students and the entire community of La Loche in the wake of today’s horrible incident,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Chiefs (FSIN). “We offer our support to the community and will work with the leadership of the Clearwater River Dene Nation to help them with the events of today.”