Emotional reopening of La Loche school set for Friday

By paNOW Staff
January 17, 2019 - 3:00pm

Attendees are being asked to wear purple Friday as family, friends and community members commemorate the grand reopening of Dene High School in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche. 

The newly-renovated school will be officially reopened in an event in the high school's gymnasium. A shooting at the school three years ago killed four people and injured seven. 

In what is expected to be a sombre occasion, the ceremony will include remarks and presentations from local-area officials and an official ribbon cutting ceremony, flag unveiling and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Northern Lights School Division and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. 

The community's mayor said there are mixed feelings leading up to the memorial event. 

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, 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 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," she said. "I’ll be emotional when I get in there."

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.”

With files from Canadian Press



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