La Loche Shooting

January 26, 2016 by  

La Loche Shooting, Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Nor are apologies and ceremonial reconciliations. Nor is a public inquiry, unless its terms are broad and deep enough to expose the diseased root of the suffering of 10 generations of aboriginal Canadians, and make it right. Does anyone in Parliament today have stomach for this fight?

It’s noteworthy, in the wake of the appalling and heart-breaking school shooting Friday in the remote Dene community of La Loche, Sask., in which nine people were shot, four fatally, that there has been no rush to judgment about the putative external causes, that I can see. Perhaps that’s still to come. But it behooves us to ask why this horror already resonates differently than it would have had the shootings occurred at a school in downtown Toronto, Montreal or Calgary.

Two of the dead – Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, aged 17 and 13 – were brothers, killed at a home near La Loche Community School. Teacher’s aide Marie Janvier, 21 and teacher Adam Wood, 35, were shot to death at the school itself. A 17-year old boy has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. Under provisions of the Young Offender’s Act he cannot be identified.

Given the now familiar template for such tragedies, the first questions one might have expected would be about access to guns. Inevitably in the aftermath of a multiple-casualty shooting in Canada, some social engineer or other ventures to suggest that, had Alan Rock’s federal long-gun registry still been in place, the carnage might have been averted. Except in this case the locale is a remote village in the northwest, where guns and hunting are part of everyday life, as is the case across the Canadian North. So that doesn’t scan.

How about video games? Maybe that’s a factor. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, numerous commentators – most notably former U.S. Army psychiatrist and author Dave Grossman – have linked the growing toll of school shootings in the United States to the de-sensitizing effects of first-person shooter video games, which mimic the stimulus-response training given to modern soldiers, without imposing the discipline of a chain of command. It’s a thought-provoking line of inquiry. I’ve come across no mention of it yet in the context of La Loche.

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