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ABE Students Pay Tribute to La Loche

May 16, 2016

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By Dylan Pelletier

Jeannie Murray, Adult Basic Education Level 3 instructor in La Loche, and Dylan Pelletier, a Program Coordinator at Dumont Technical Institute, asked Jeannie’s students to write about La Loche and their experiences in the community. We selected six of the student writings. We have featured some here, and the rest will appear in the May 2016 Communicator.


I Love La Loche

By Deanna J. Janvier

I was born and raised here in La Loche. It is a beautiful place to live and raise a family. La Loche has nice and kind-hearted people who will help each other in any way that they can. There are people who still live the traditional lifestyle. The people go fishing, hunting and trapping; they would gather and smoke fish in the summer. Sometimes on warm summer evenings they would get together and tell stories, and laugh and make jokes. The people maintain our Dene language and speak it fluently. It is a strong and powerful language to us. The language brings us together and keeps us strong.

On January 22, 2016, there was a fatal shooting at the local high school that left four people dead and seven wounded. The community is still in shock. There are no words to describe the fatal incident, because this sort of thing does not happen in real life. It only happens in movies or video games.

There has been mixed emotions in the community: despair, shock, and anger. People were also scared and hurt all at the same time. The thought of helplessness and not knowing what is going to happen next occupy our minds. There are no words to describe our feelings at this time.

After the incident in January, some people are coping at their own pace and some were getting treatment from the facilities that the government provided us. Deep inside we know our community will never be the same as before. We look at each other in a different way now and some ask why? Why our town? Why our people? There are no real answers for these questions. But, it’s time. Time for healing. Time for change, and time to get stronger

My Healing Journey

By Tina Toulejour

La Lache is my home. I was born and raised in the community. I have three children, two teenagers who attend Dene High School, and my baby who attends Ducharme Elementary. I am a student with Dumont Technical Institute Adult Basic Education Level 3 program. Nothing has affected me more than the incident on January 22, 2016 at Dene High School.

I was very devastated at first when I heard about the incident, I couldn’t think for a moment, but I kept myself busy by working on my crafts, sewing, and beadwork. I spend a lot time with my children especially with my two teenagers, because they were in the building when the tragedy took place. I have to keep them busy to make sure they are feeling okay.

I want my children to feel they are loved and belong. I teach them the difference between what’s right and wrong. We talk about how we can heal. We pray each night before bedtime. Family get together is one of the ways in which we are healing. I share stories about how I was raised in a loving, caring and welcoming home.

We are a strong community, and we have held onto our Dene language and our traditional way of life. As a community, we welcome anyone who comes to La Loche by greeting them with a smile. Friends and families get together during holidays, camping, picnics, and other activities. There is a feeling of oneness in La Loche. We have strength, and we will come together to recreate our town.


Carrying on our Traditions

By Wanda Montgrand

After what happed in January, the community came together and everyone helped each other out by praying and this made us stronger. Our traditional lifestyle helps us get stronger too.

In this community, there are lots of people that go hunting. As I young girl, I would up North with my parents. Today, my parents take my children with them up North so they can learn how to snare rabbits, hunt and trap, and make dry fish and also dry meat. My parents take pride in what they do.

If we lose all the old people we well lose our culture. If we teach our children then the culture can be saved. The young generations will learn and pass our traditions on to their children.


What I like about La Loche

By Ferris Lemaigre

I was eight years old when I first moved to La Loche. Compared to the city where I lived before, La Loche seemed like a bush. But, I soon developed a fondness for the ‘wilderness,’ as we would call it as kids. I used to enjoy making forts and little fires with my little friends. I also enjoyed listening to the Elders, like my grandma, telling us stories of their life experiences. As well, I learned our culture and traditions, including beading, cooking, and checking and setting up traps. To this day, I enjoy being out in nature and enjoying our beautiful land. I liked it when we got to go canoeing, boating, and going out further into the bush.

It is awesome, especially the Dene language. The language is strong and mostly everybody speaks it. The stories the folks tell about the olden days is interesting. I wish I could tell a story but I couldn’t remember right now. The bush, the lakes, and the views are great here in the north.


The Brief History of our cultural Tradittons of La Loche

By Deanna R. Janvier

I am a resident of La Loche, where I grew up knowing and practicing our Métis traditions and culture. The population La Loche was 2607 in 2011. We have a number of businesses in town, including four grocery stores. I am a student in the Adult Basic Education Level 3 program at the Dumont Technical Institute Centre in La Loche.

La Loche has strong Métis cultural traditions, and we were taught how to hunt, fish, and respect our land. Our elders and parents are also our teachers. The elders teach us lessons by telling us stories about the olden days when everyone went to church every Sunday and always prayed. We still pray before going to bed, and we teach these to our children. Some of the stories were about when everyone used to live off the land; and work hard to get what they wanted to keep their families healthy and fed. We were also taught to hunt and fish only when it is necessary.

Each generation will also go through these important lessons of our cultural values, such as how to respect, love our family and friends and the importance of helping out and giving back to the land. We value these lessons, and live to teach the next generation. We are always reminded to keep our language and speak our language because we were once not allowed to speak it. Parents also teach our young people about the value of education and how important it is now.


The Positives of La Loche

By Cindy Mercredi

My name is Cindy. I am a resident of the community of La Loche where I was born and raised. I lived with my grandparents until I was 9 or 10 years old, then I moved back with my parents. As I was growing up, I saw a lot of positive sides to La Loche. The people are always welcoming new people into our community and they help out anyway they can. This is why a lot of people from other places come to teach, work, and do business in our community.

Many people from other communities now call La Loche home. Several have married into our community and started their families here. I never heard of racism in our culture and traditional way of life here in La Loche. The people are always friendly with big smiles on their faces, and they will greet you like saying “how are you, and “hello,” every time they see someone walking. I hardly see the negative side of La Loche, except for alcohol and drug abuse that is destroying our people’s lives. There are also the gangs that are leading many young people astray. However, these problems are not unique to La Loche. Other communities face similar challenges. Otherwise, I love my community. I will stand for this community for it is the place I call home. It is La Loche.

We will never forget the incident on January 22, 2016. It is in our prayers. We forgive, and that makes us stronger. As a community, we try to see positive out of negative. Praying keeps us together, and increases our strength. We lean on each other though we cry through our grief.

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