Canada's Trudeau visits aboriginal town after deadly shooting

Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:23pm EST
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By Matthew Smith

LA LOCHE, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Residents of the remote Canadian town of La Loche, having softened frozen cemetery ground with bonfires, prepared to bury their loved ones as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived on Friday at the site of Canada's worst mass shooting in a decade.

Trudeau's visit comes a week after a shooter killed four people and wounded seven at a home and high school, and a day before funerals were to begin in the aboriginal Saskatchewan town.

"It was an extremely touching visit for me," Trudeau said, in a soft voice choked with emotion. "We met an extraordinarily resilient community of people here in La Loche."

The prime minister laid flowers at a makeshift memorial in snow outside the school, and met privately with family members of victims.

Trudeau, elected in October, has pledged to repair relations with Canada's 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up 5 percent of the population but are disproportionately victims of violent crime and incarceration.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged in the shootings. Local media said the teen had been taunted about his large ears, and during the shootings spared students who had been kind to him.

Two brothers, a teacher and teaching assistant were killed.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Quebec City for meetings, offered Canada his country's prayers.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs Phyllis Longobardi in La Loche, Saskatchewan January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Hayward/Pool