Two forums were held over the weekend to address parents’ and students’ concerns and fears following the double stabbing last Tuesday at Abbotsford Senior Secondary that resulted in the death of Letisha Reimer.
The first session took place on Friday night at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Comments were brought forward from Cindy Schafer, vice-chair of the board of education; school district superintendent Kevin Godden; Mayor Henry Braun; Abbotsford Police Insp. Carol Powell; Abbotsford Senior Secondary principal Rob Comeau; and Cheri Lovre, a crisis specialist with extensive experience in dealing with tragic school events.
During the forum, a variety of concerns were addressed, as parents and students asked questions about the future: Are we safe? Will there be security at the school next week? What will Monday look like? Will there be a review of security protocols? How do I help my child get through this situation?
Godden said district staff will review and evaluate current school safety protocols. He stressed the importance of keeping schools a welcoming place, emphasizing that student safety is – and has always been – the district’s top priority.
Schafer acknowledged the incredible outpouring of support from families and community members throughout Abbotsford.
“Love, care and compassion for each other will encourage us along the path to healing and recovery,” she said.
Braun said that some youth cope best when a family network of caring adults listen and respond to them in an honest, consistent and supportive manner.
“It is going to take continued support, courage and understanding in the days ahead as the community moves forward,” he added.
Powell commended the students and staff for their courage during the incident. She noted that in the face of the crisis, everyone did what they needed to keep the students safe.
She was complimentary to staff and students who attended to the victims at the scene. In the upcoming week, the Abbotsford Police Department will be on site to provide additional support to Abbotsford Senior staff and students.
Lovre said that it is not uncommon to have feelings of anger after such a tragic event.
She asked parents to watch for warning signs and encouraged students to reach out to their friends and family and – most importantly – be together during the grieving process.
She praised the district for its response, and congratulated the community for the collaboration and support of the families and staff. Lovre will be on site at Abbotsford Senior to assist with the transition process.
Following the forum, students and parents were given the opportunity to walk through the hallways, face their fears and reclaim their school. Many walked in and out of the rotunda, taking their time to be with their friends, family and school staff.
On Saturday, the district provided an additional forum at W.J. Mouat Secondary for community members to attend.
Parents are encouraged to visit the school district website at sd34.bc.ca for information and resources.
Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org