LA LOCHE, Sask. — The mayor of a northern Saskatchewan community says there are mixed feelings as renovations to the high school are revealed three years after a deadly shooting.
Four people died and another seven were injured when a young man shot up the school and a home in La Loche in January 2016.
Students have been using the school, 700 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, since shortly after the shooting, but a ceremony is planned for Friday to mark the completion of construction on the front entrance, the washrooms and a wellness area.
“That’s some exciting times,” La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre said in a phone interview. “At the same time, it’s at that time of year when three years ago the incident occurred, the tragic event. It’s a mixture of feelings.”
The director of education for Northern Lights School Division said the school upgrades will help students and staff get over the lasting effects of the shooting.
“With the renovated condition, obviously there are less triggers and I think that’s what we need,” Jason Young said. “It’s a necessary piece to move forward.”
Renovations cost about $4 million and funding was provided by the provincial government.
The shooter was weeks away from his 18th birthday when he killed teenage brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine at their home before he fatally shot teacher’s aide Marie Janvier and teacher Adam Wood at the Dene High School.
He was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. The shooter is appealing his sentence and can’t be named.
Janvier’s mother, Jackie, is planning to attend the ceremony and said it will be difficult.
“If I do the tour around the school and see what changes they’ve made … I’ll be emotional when I get in there,” she said.
Janvier isn’t sure how her daughter will be honoured by the school, but a plaque “would be wonderful.”
A moment of silence, poetry reading and slide show are planned as part of the ceremony. The event is to include a plaque presentation and ribbon cutting.
St. Pierre, who attended the high school himself, said it’s important to have the building fully reopened.
“It will be emotional, I’m sure, for some. (But) I think that having that replaced and not going through that same entrance where the incidents occurred … I think it will be helpful in the healing journey.”