Family, friends, colleagues and community members from across two provinces came together to say goodbye to Adam Wood, a teacher who was one of four people killed during a school shooting at La Loche Community School in Northern Saskatchewan.
Those who spoke during Saturday's funeral at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Leaskdale, Ont., remembered the 35-year-old as a selfless person who felt a deep connection to nature and loved to make others laugh. The large church was packed with hundreds of mourners who filled both its main sanctuary and the gymnasium.
Having grown up in Uxbridge, Ont., Mr. Wood had just moved to the small village of La Loche last September to begin his teaching career. Mr. Wood was killed January 22 during a shooting rampage that also killed teacher's aide Marie Janvier, 21, and teenage brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, and wounded seven others.
A 17-year-old male was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Soil from four communities where Mr. Wood lived, worked and went to school – La Loche, Sask., Uxbridge, Ont., Thunder Bay, Ont. and Russet House Farm in Cameron, Ont. – was placed on his casket.
These communities also came together after the tragedy to support the victims' families and help heal the La Loche community. One fundraising campaign raised about $35,700 in online and offline donations to help Mr. Wood's family return his body to Ontario and pay for his funeral, while another online campaign raised nearly $28,000 to help all of the victims' families. An auction organized by the small community radio station CHPN 89.9 FM, "the Dene Voice of La Loche," raised over $30,000 for the shooting victims' families.
Mr. Wood's family asked that, in lieu of flowers for the funeral, people remember him by donating to the Fuel for Change foundation, "to help empower the students of La Loche to create positive, lasting change in their community."
The predominantly Dene community of La Loche struggles with unemployment and suicide rates well above the provincial average.
"Rather than looking for someone to blame, or coming up with outsider opinions of reasons why this occurred, we must stop and listen to the voices of La Loche," read an earlier statement from Mr. Wood's family. "The leaders and community know what types of support and changes are needed. Our responsibility as a nation is to listen and respond to create lasting systemic change."