Assembly of First Nations National Chief Bulletin January 2016
La Loche, Saskatchewan
First Nations citizens and Canadians across the country are shocked and saddened by the shooting and fatalities that took place Friday, January 22 in La Loche, Saskatchewan.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of La Loche and with the friends and families of all those affected by the tragedy. On behalf of myself and the AFN National Executive I convey our sincere sympathies and condolences. I am from Saskatchewan and know the community of La Loche and their neighbor, the Clearwater River Dene First Nation very well. This tragedy touches many of us personally.
In situations like this we know that information can be changing and at times conflicting. Current reports indicate that there are four fatalities as result of shooting incidents at two sites and that a male suspect is in custody. RCMP officials have not released the names of the victims and we will respect that privacy. As events can change I encourage you to monitor media and police reports for information. We understand there will be updates throughout the day and the days that follow by provincial officials and law enforcement agencies.
My office is working to get the latest information while understanding that the priority is to allow the authorities and local leadership to do their work and address current needs in the community.
We are making every effort that we can, at the AFN, to help in this situation. I am in contact with Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark, whose community is affected by this tragedy. I am also in contact with AFN Saskatchewan Regional Chief Bobby Cameron. I am providing information to the AFN National Executive as it is available to make sure we are informed and can assist in any way that is helpful at the request of the community and leadership.
I have spoken with Prime Minister Trudeau about this situation. He is currently overseas in Switzerland but is aware of this situation and is pledging full support for the community. I am also in constant contact with the Office of Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall and also with MP Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River Georgina Jolibois. I am in contact with RCMP Commissioner Paulson as his office and officers have the most current information on the investigation.
We have contacted Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale`s office on this matter as there are efforts underway to provide Trauma Therapists and other relief to the community.
We do not have all the details but we know these kinds of specific incidents are rare in our communities. We want to ensure the investigation is thorough, that we focus on relief for the community and, going forward, that we can better understand steps we can take towards prevention.
We need a unified effort by all sectors of the public and all levels of government to immediately ensure the necessary resources and supports are present to ensure safety for First Nations people. We must all work together to identify the needs, priorities and services required to prevent violence in our communities. First Nations leadership is committed to work with all governments, at all levels, to take action to prevent such senseless violence and to ensure safety and security for everyone in Canada and especially the safety and security of our children and young people.
Right now, our attention and our efforts are focused on supporting the citizens of La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene Nation as they deal with the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. We stand with them, support them and will do whatever they ask to assist them during this difficult time. I respectfully ask all First Nations people to send prayers and engage in ceremony for those who are grieving and working to heal today.
National Chief Perry Bellegarde
Assembly of First Nations
The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on work underway at the national office. More information can be found at www.afn.ca.