OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Washington state senator whose own community was ripped apart by a school shooting in 2014 has advice for Canadian leaders as they grapple with the aftermath of Friday’s killings in La Loche, Sask.
John McCoy said it will take time. Marshal all the resources you can. And listen to the kids.
“It’s a long journey. We’re still healing,” McCoy said Sunday from Olympia, the state’s capital.
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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said on the weekend that the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, suggested the province seek advice from the U.S. communities that have suffered mass shootings.
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On Oct. 24, 2014, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg fatally shot three 14-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy who was his cousin in the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash., after inviting them to lunch. He injured another one of his cousins, a 14-year-old boy.
Fryberg then shot himself.
McCoy said the first thing everyone asks is why.
Fryberg was a member of the Tulalip native band, which neighbours Marysville. Three of his victims were also native Americans, said McCoy, who is a Tulalip member himself and knew Fryberg’s grandmother.
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The boy was class president and a football player.
The day after the shooting in Marysville, McCoy said he looked at social media and was horrified at the hostility.
McCoy said crisis teams came. They had experience dealing with earlier school shootings elsewhere in the U.S., and the counsellors were diverse to reflect the varied ethnic communities in Marysville.
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A local recovery group was established with community representatives that took a survey of students and parents about what they wanted.
Their decision, McCoy said, was that they wanted the school torn down. So McCoy said he supported a capital budget request to replace the school with a new one.
“You can’t spend enough money to take care of these kids. They’re like any other community. They have issues and they need to be addressed. They need to be worked with, they need to be listened to,” McCoy said.
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Nine people were shot at La Loche Community school on Friday. A teacher and teacher’s aide died, while seven others were hospitalized for treatment of their wounds. Two teenagers were also found dead at a nearby home.
A 17-year-old boy was scheduled to appear in court Monday charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
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Kevin Janvier, the acting mayor of La Loche, said Sunday he would like to see the school in the village replaced after what happened.
“Personally, I want that school to be rebuilt,” he said. “Torn down, rebuilt, a whole new structure.”