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Canada's Deadliest Mass School Shootings: How Can We Keep Schools Safe?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Canada has seen some of the most horrific mass school shootings in modern history. With tragic events such as the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989, the Dawson College shooting in 2006, and the La Loche Community School shooting in 2016, there is an urgent need to protect the lives of students and staff within school premises.


As the frequency of school shootings continues to be a pressing concern worldwide, we're going to examine the incidence and impact of Canada's mass school shootings to understand how to keep schools safe.


Quick Answers:


A List Of Canada's Mass School Shootings


La Loche Community School Shooting (2016)


Randan Fontaine, Source: CBC


The last school shooting in Canada happened on January 22, 2016, in La Loche, Saskatchewan. Randan Dakota Fontaine, 17, killed four people, including his two brothers at a home and two teachers at the school. Seven others were injured. He had cognitive, social and developmental issues.


Fontaine was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.


École Polytechnique massacre (1989)



On December 6, 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine entered École Polytechnique in Montreal armed with a rifle. He opened fire on the student and staff and killed 14 women and injured 14 others before taking his own life.


He specifically targeted women in his attack, and his actions were motivated by his hatred of feminists. According to The Conversation, he allegedly walked into a classroom and ordered the men to leave. He declared, “I hate feminists,” before opening fire.


Dawson College shooting (2006)


Source: Ian Barrett and Global News


On September 13, 2006, 25-year-old Kimveer Gill opened fire at Dawson College in Montreal. Gill killed one person and injured 19 others, Gill shot himself soon after being shot in the arm by police. Gill wrote on a goth forum that he wished to die either "like Romeo and Juliet - or in a hail of gunfire".


The incident highlighted the need for better emergency response plans and improved mental health services for students.


How Common Are School Shootings in Canada?


From 1885 to 2018, Global News reported 29 confirmed cases of school shootings in Canada, resulting in the deaths of 40 people and injuring 68 others. On average, this indicates that 0.4 school shootings occurred each year.


In comparison, in the United States from 2013 to 2021, there was an average of 87 school shootings per year, as per Everytown Research. This resulted in an annual average of 28.4 fatalities and 59.6 injuries.

Between 2009 and 2018, CNN reported a lower number of school shootings in the United States, with a total of 288 incidents identified using more stringent criteria. You can view the CNN graph below.


Canadian School Shootings: What's Being Done to Prevent Them?

In the aftermath of the tragic La Loche school shooting in 2016, Canada was forced to confront its history of school shootings and take proactive steps towards preventing future incidents.


Passing Bill C-71

One notable step in 2019 was the passage of Bill C-71 by the federal government, which introduced stricter gun control laws and made it more difficult for individuals with a history of violence to obtain firearms.


Schools Tightened Their Security

Additionally, many schools have established emergency response plans and protocols for communicating with parents during a crisis. They've implemented lockdown drills and other preparedness measures to protect both students and staff in the event of a potential threat.


Mental Health Services

Furthermore, mental health services are being made available to students and teachers to identify and address warning signs of violence.


While Canada has seen some of the deadliest mass school shootings in history, the overall incidence of such incidents in the country has been relatively low. Nonetheless, the scars left behind by these events have had a lasting impact.


There remains a pressing need for ongoing vigilance and protective measures to ensure the safety of students and staff within the school environment.




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