Canada government: worried about aboriginal towns in wake of shooting

Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:21pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's government, grappling with a fatal attack in a remote aboriginal town, is very concerned about the "tragic and alarming" conditions in other indigenous communities, a top official said on Sunday.

A 17-year-old boy was due to appear in court on Monday, charged with four counts of murder after Friday's deadly incident in La Loche, an impoverished town in the western province of Saskatchewan.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took power last year promising to tackle high levels of poverty, crime, bad housing and poor health among aboriginals, who make up 4 percent of the country's population of 36 million.

House leader Dominic LeBlanc, a key Trudeau ally from the Atlantic province of New Brunswick, told reporters Ottawa would work with aboriginal leaders "to deal with some of the tragic and alarming social indicators in many of these communities".

He added: "I have some of these communities ... in New Brunswick. I worry about them a great deal, and our whole government does."

Hundreds of people in La Loche, a community of 2,600, attended a church service on Sunday in memory of the four victims.

Local Roman Catholic Archbishop Murray Chatlain said recent cuts to school and other services could have played a role in the tragedy, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported.

"I think those things need to be revisited. Our cuts sometimes end up costing more," the paper quoted him as saying.   Continued...

The Dene high school campus of the La Loche Community School is seen in an undated photo. REUTERS/Raymond Dauvin/Handout via Reuters