SASKATOON –The sister of a teacher who was killed in a school shooting is speaking out in support of the northern Saskatchewan community where he died.
Adam Wood was killed along with a teacher’s aide at the La Loche school by a 17-year-old boy who had already fatally shot two teenage brothers at a home.
Caitlin Wood and some other members of Adam’s family recently attended a memorial to mark the first anniversary of the shooting.
Wood, who has avoided the media, said she was touched by people who approached her after the ceremony to exchange words of hope, condolence and shared grief.
She said she feels the need to add her voice to calls for more support for La Loche –where some community leaders have said they feel forgotten despite politicians’ promises to help.
Wood said it’s hard not to think that her brother’s death could have been avoided.
“The lack of social workers, the lack of opportunities for youth to become engaged. Those types of things may have contributed to the school shooting,” Wood told CKOM Radio in Saskatoon.
She said she remembers times when her brother bemoaned the lack of government leaders with knowledge of the North.
Wood admits she wrote the comments off at the time, given her brother’s passion for the region, but now finds herself asking the same questions.
“How many of these politicians have had experiences living up there?” she said.
“The people that are making policies and the people that are making judgments and laws and decisions about where funding should go –how many of them really, truly know what life is like in the northern areas?”
She believes too often there’s an attitude of ‘Oh well, it’s too far’ and ‘it’s the North’ and I just think that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Wood, who lives in Toronto, is calling on people to contact their elected representatives to demand better care for the North.
Last month, principal Greg Hatch was critical of the amount of support for the community since the shooting on Jan. 22, 2016. He said that after the first month, the school was left on its own to make it through the year.
Provincial officials responded that a mental-health nurse has been hired along with more school counsellors. They also said there have been improvements to adult education and skills training, and pointed to a new 14-unit affordable rental housing project.
The government said it has also provided $480,000 for priority projects at the La Loche Health Centre, including a new X-ray machine.
The youth, who cannot be named, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and attempted murder. He is to be sentenced in the spring.