Canada concerned about aboriginals after fatal school attack

Canada worries about aboriginal towns following deadly school shooting, as teenage suspect due to appear in court on Monday

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

The exterior of La Loche Community School, Jan. 22, 2016.

A top Canadian official on Sunday said the government is worried about the "tragic and alarming" conditions of other indigenous communities, in the wake of a fatal assault in a remote aboriginal town.

A 17 year old boy has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in a mass shooting at a school and home at the northern town of  La Loche in the city of Saskatoon.

Elected last year, liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed to deal with high levels of poverty, crime, bad housing and poor health among aboriginals, who are the 4 percent of the country's 36 million population.

House leader Dominic LeBlanc told reporters Ottawa was ready to work with aboriginal leaders "to deal with some of the tragic and alarming social indicators in many of these communities"

Hundreds of people in La Loche attended a church service on Sunday in memory of the four victims.

 Police were at the scene of a daytime shooting at the La Loche, Saskatchewan, junior and senior high school, Jan. 23, 2016. (AP)

Local Roman Catholic Archbishop Murray Chatlain said recent cuts to school and other services could be among the things that triggered the tragedy, local media reported.

The head of an aboriginal community in northern Manitoba said the tragedy was a reminder for the need for major investments in mental health, education and the economy.

"I'm surprised it doesn't happen more - not to this level, of course - given the despair we see," Sheila North Wilson said in a phone interview.

The male suspect, who can't be named under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, first shot dead two brothers, 17 year old Dayne Fountaine and 13 year old Drayden in a home before heading to 12 La Loche Community School and killing 21-year-old Marie Janvier, an educational assistant and 35-year-old Adam Wood, a teacher.

The shooter targeted 9 people at the school, as seven of them were wounded and hospitalised.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada which has stricter gun laws than the United States, but Friday’s shooting was the country's deadliest in 26 years. 

In 1989, 14 college students were killed at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique and a shooting in 1992 at Concordia University in Montreal killed four.

The 17-year-old boy is due to appear in court on Monday.

TRTWorld and agencies