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Archbishop tells La Loche, Sask., to focus on its generosity after shootings

Church members console each other outsuide church after a mass in La Loche, Sask., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. Four people were killed Friday in shootings at a local school and a home in the small town.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
January 24, 2016 - 2:30 PM

LA LOCHE, Sask. - A Sunday service at a Roman Catholic church in La Loche, Sask., heard from an archbishop who told congregants to focus on their community's generosity.

Archbishop Murray Chatlain says it will take time for the village to heal after shootings that left four people dead and seven others wounded on Friday, but the tragedy doesn't define La Loche.

"When something tragic like this happens, it's often the only time people hear about a community like La Loche and it's only in bad news, and the people here are very faithful and good people," said Chatlain, the archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas who estimated 250 people attended the service at the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation.

"There's many tremendously generous people here, so ... the story is much more than this in La Loche."

Chatlain said he has met with the victims' families as well as the family of a 17-year-old boy who is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

The youth, who can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is scheduled to make his first appearance Monday in Meadow Lake provincial court.

Saskatchewan RCMP say that during an eight-minute period in the La Loche Community school on Friday afternoon, nine people were shot.

Two staff members died.

Two brothers, one 13 and the other 17, were discovered dead in a home not far away.

Premier Brad Wall and MP Ralph Goodale were scheduled to arrive in La Loche on Sunday, but their flight was unable to land because of weather.

Outside the church, some people hugged and paused to talk on a cold day under a grey sky.

Chatlain said the victims' families need time to work through what has happened and the family of the accused should not face blame.

He met with the accused's family Saturday night to offer support in this "nightmare experience that they're going through and trying to offer them the support of the community."

"We're not blaming them. ... It's just, this has happened and now how do we bring healing and support and try find ways for our young people to have more hope."

Marie Janvier, 21, died at the school. She had graduated from the school two years earlier and a friend said she was hired as a teacher's aide last fall.

Adam Wood, 35, had also just started work at the school in September as a teacher. RCMP said he died of his wounds shortly after arriving at the La Loche hospital.

Drayden Fontaine, 13, and Dayne Fontaine, 17, were found dead in the house.

Andrew Lemaigre, 65, attended the church service and said his daughter-in-law was in the school at the time and saw the shooting.

"It was really hard on her," said Lemaigre, whose grandchildren were also in the school.

He said the archbishop spoke about forgiveness.

"He knows we're in shock and he knows the people in La Loche are good," Lemaigre said. "There's going to be some anger coming out of it, some hatred and forgiveness. It takes time to heal. You know, we can't heal in one day, a month, sometimes it takes years."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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