The mayor of a northern Saskatchewan village says her community has been shaken after two people were stabbed at the high school in La Loche.
The Northern Lights School Division confirmed Friday a student and a staff member were attacked Thursday at the Dene High School.
The two victims were being treated in hospital in Saskatoon and the suspect was in RCMP custody, the division said.
“It’s a very difficult time for the community and it has become rather quiet and reflective and trying to make sense of what has happened,” La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois told The Canadian Press.
“My priority remains with the community, the safety of the students and of the educators.”
Jason Young, the director of the school division, said two students got into a fight in the school’s common area during recess.
He said an educational assistant went to break up the fight. In the process of intervening, one of the students pulled out a knife and stabbed the other student and the educational assistant, he said.
“I can’t speak for him in terms of what he was thinking, but I do know that he saw an altercation and he went to break up a fight to ensure that kids can be safe,” Young said. “In that process, unfortunately, he himself was injured.”
Young said the school community is safe and that there are no current threats.
He said supports are to be made available to the community, students and staff.
Young declined to describe the condition of the victims out of privacy for the families.
The division has directed further questions to RCMP, but Mounties did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The school was closed on Friday.
Jolibois said the staff member who was attacked is being hailed as a hero.
“By him stepping in, he heroically prevented other incidents,” she said.
In 2016, four people were killed in a mass shooting in La Loche. The village is about 600 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
A 17-year-old student first killed two teen brothers in a home before going to the high school, where he killed a teacher and a teacher's aide and wounded seven others.
Jolibois said the Thursday stabbings brought back memories of the shooting.
“It’s important to get that message out that the additional resources that were asked for in 2016 -- I still believe we’re asking for additional resources,” she said. “It would be really helpful to get the support of the federal and provincial governments.”
Following the shooting, the province spent $4.45 million to renovate the school in 2019.
Renovations included a new entrance featuring a security desk, as well as a new administrative office so staff could have a better view of the outside.
The province also worked with La Loche on developing a community plan.
Jolibois said there are no metal detectors in the school, but added community members have had discussions about installing them.
She said the school needs a permanent RCMP member.
“There has to be some improvements and some more discussions from the justice file related to the safety of all the staff and students at school,” she said.
Young said all options are on the table, including adding metal detectors.
He said an RCMP school resource officer was at the school during the attack.
“We’re grateful for having that support. I think those measures were helpful in this case,” Young said.
“We’re all asking questions and consulting staff, parents and students to gather information that will help inform how we proceed in a way that ensures the safety of staff with everyone.”
Jolibois said the school has also been short-staffed over the past year.
“This year has been a really difficult year for the school,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Saskatchewan government said Government Relations Minister Don McMorris and Jim Lemaigre, the legislature member for the area, visited the community on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2023.
-- By Jeremy Simes in Regina