TORONTO – The family of an Uxbridge, Ont. man killed in a school shooting in La Loche Saskatchewan voiced hopes that the tragedy can “fuel change” in the troubled community.
Teacher Adam Wood, 35, was shot and killed at La Loche Community School Friday, just months into his teaching career.
READ MORE: La Loche school shooting: a timeline of events
Uxbridge, Ont. teacher among victims in deadly Saskatchewan shooting
In a statement released Sunday, the family said Wood embraced the “joys and struggles” of teaching in the small community, which is plagued with high unemployment and suicide rates.
“We find ourselves in moments of despair thinking, ‘Why did it have to be Adam?’ But really, the question is, ‘Why did this have to happen?’,” the statement reads.
“It is in these moments we are given the opportunity to examine ourselves and hopefully, come out better and stronger as a community and a nation. We feel sadness and remorse but rarely do we use that to fuel change.”
More than 90 per cent of La Loche and the surrounding region self-identify as aboriginal, with Dene as the predominant First Nation, according to the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority.
A regional health report from 2007-2008 noted the region’s suicide rate was three times the provincial average.
READ MORE: Public safety minister, Sask. premier head to La Loche after deadly shooting
The family adds that the greater emphasis should be on the social conditions that led to the tragedy, not who is responsible for it.
“As communities come together to support one another, we must ask how to prevent anyone from experiencing a loss of this kind. Rather than looking for someone to blame, or coming up with outsider opinions of reasons why this occurred, we must stop and listen to the voices of La Loche.”
“Our responsibility as a nation is to listen and respond to create lasting systemic change.”
FULL COVERAGE: La Loche school shooting
Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier were killed at the school Friday, and Dayne Fontaine, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13, were shot nearby. A 17-year-old has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, among other charges.