JOLIBOIS COMMEMORATES ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF LA LOCHE SHOOTING

Member of Parliament Georgina Jolibois (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River) issued this statement to mark the one year anniversary of the shooting in La Loche on January 22nd, 2016:

“A year has passed since the shooting at La Loche Dene High School on January 22nd, an event that will forever be etched in our memory and our heart. This tragedy has devastated families, the school and our community.

As we commemorate this sad day, I cannot stress enough the gratitude and appreciation for the heroes of that day. The teachers who were wounded and lost their lives protecting our children will forever be remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with their families.

The courage and bravery of our local RCMP, paramedics, La Loche Health Centre doctors, nurses and staff, social workers, critical incident teams, elders and community leaders – who did their best to protect the children and community members, and to guide them in their grieving and healing process.

We need to continue to speak about the importance of mental health services – have greater awareness and move towards implementing long term strategies for individual, family and community wellness.

But that’s not all. We must not forget the important role of Dene language, culture, and a connection to the land in our youth’s education. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action clearly states that Indigenous languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them. Language and culture empower our youth and contribute to their reconnection to the land.

The federal and provincial governments must step in and fully support with funding efforts linked to language and cultural retention for our youth as they are important components to the healing process. There is no doubt that a comprehensive community plan is needed in the Village of La Loche. This plan should include sports, culture and arts programs to keep the youth engaged and inspired.

I have deep respect for the survivors, students, teachers and school staff whose resilience, strength and dedication to the community of La Loche and its surrounding areas is nothing short of inspiring and uplifting. I acknowledge that there are still survivors who are struggling to make ends meet and require our help and support.

The truth of the matter is that northerners are resilient and strong; community members have a lot to give to Saskatchewan and to Canada.

We can learn from this experience as we continue to move forward in our healing journeys. This was a senseless act of violence that one year later still haunts many individuals impacted by the tragedy. But love, encouragement and strength will feed our resolve and we will continue to move forward.”

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For more information contact: 613-292-0805 or georgina.jolibois.a1@parl.gc.ca