Four people were killed and an alleged shooter was arrested Friday, January 22, 2016, after gunfire erupted at a school in a small town in northern Saskatchewan, Chief Superintendent Maureen Levy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Friday night.
Levy said authorities received a call about 1 p.m. Friday saying a weapon had been discharged at La Loche Community School in La Loche. Officers went to the school and at 1:47 p.m. arrested a suspect and seized his weapon.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier addressed the nation, saying, "Obviously this is every parent's worst nightmare" and calling it "a terrible, tragic day."
Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark described the shooting as devastating in an interview with 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," The Star Phoenix.
Teacher Marie Janvier, 23, was confirmed as one of the victims. Her father, Kevin, is the mayor of La Loche.
Janvier’s family said they could not believe that Marie had been killed.
“Her smile will light up the room on the darkest day,” said Sandie Janvier in a Facebook message, calling her the “sweetest caring person … We lost a loving sister today.”
Four people were killed by an alleged teenaged shooter Friday in La Loche: (Clockwise from top left): Teacher's assistant Marie Janvier, 21; Teacher Adam Wood, 35; brothers Drayden Fontaine, 13 and Dayne Fontaine, 17. (Source: Facebook)
School shootings are a form of murder-suicides
In my book, The Copycat Effect, I examine the background we see in school shootings in a subsection entitled “Murders as Suicides, Suicides as Murders."
Sigmund Freud conceptualized suicide as the “murder of one’s self.”
Karl Menninger, author of Man Against Himself (1938), wrote, “Is it hard for the reader to believe that suicides are sometimes committed to forestall the committing of murder? There is no doubt of it. Nor is there any doubt of it. Nor is there any doubt that murder is sometimes committed to avert suicide."
La Loche Background
The school provides a prekindergarten to 12th grade education and houses about 900 students in two buildings, the school's Facebook page says. The town has about 2,600 people.
La Loche is a northern village in northwest Saskatchewan. It is located at the end of Highway 155 on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche [literally, lake of the lake] in Canada's boreal forest. La Loche had a population of 2,611 in 2011 and is within the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. The Dene High School hockey team are the Lakers.
Most Chipewyan people now use Dene and Dënesųłiné to refer to themselves and their language, respectively. The Saskatchewan communities of Fond-du-Lac, Black Lake, Wollaston Lake and La Loche are a few.
A Town With A Bleak History
The annual suicide rate in the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority is the highest of any health authority in Saskatchewan. The area, which includes La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Ile a la Crosse and other communities in the province’s northwest, averaged 43.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people between 2008 and 2012. That’s more than triple the average annual provincial rate of 12.7 suicide deaths per 100,000. The average annual suicide rates in the Saskatoon and Regina Qu’Appelle health authorities were 10.2 and 11.5 per 100,000 people respectively for the same time frame.
La Loche is more than seven hours northwest of the nearest major city, Saskatoon. It is a community with high levels of unemployment and addiction to drugs and alcohol and a reputation as a tough town. In 2011, two Mounties were forced to barricade themselves into the local health clinic when a mob attacked them after incorrectly assuming that the officers had beaten a man who had been injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. A police truck was also burned, and an ambulance badly damaged. When La Loche appears in the provincial news media, it is usually in connection with violence or drug arrests.
But looming over the town, whose residents are predominately Dene Indians, are sporadic waves of suicides, including one last year. Eighteen people, most of them young, killed themselves from August 2005 to January 2010 in La Loche, which has a population of about 2,600....
Laurence Thompson, a sociologist in Saskatoon who has worked with the native friendship council in La Loche for several years, said that while the town’s lakeside setting in the boreal forest was spectacular, its poverty was immediately apparent. Despite being the hub for nearby communities with a combined population of about 4,000 people, La Loche has no sit-down restaurants, no banks, no movie theaters, not even a coffee shop. The nearest Tim Hortons restaurant, a Canadian staple, is about 60 miles away. ~
"La Loche, the Canadian Town Where 4 Were Killed, Has a Bleak History," New York Times
Other Indian, Native, and First Nations shootings
The Red Lake shootings (see #8 here) involved two incidents on March 21, 2005 that occurred in two places on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota. Jeffrey James Weise was born to an unmarried Ojibwe couple from the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota. Weise killed his his grandfather and his grandfather's companion before going to the reservation high school, where he murdered seven more people and wounded five others. He then died by suicide.