|EMSB PROVIDES GUIDANCE TO ADMINISTRATORS OF HOW TO COPE WITH DAWSON TRAGEDY|
MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 14, 2006- In the wake of yesterday’s tragic shooting incident, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) wishes to express its heartfelt sympathy to the victims, their families and the entire Dawson College community. This act of violence hit the EMSB particularly close to home. One of the victims, Anastasia De Sousa, was a former EMSB student.
EMSB Director General Antonio Lacroce and Montreal Police Department Inspector Johanne Paquin are today issuing a joint memo to every parent and adult sector student in the system, deploring the violence which took place at Dawson and expressing deep sadness over the loss of life, injuries and emotional toll. Furthermore, the EMSB is sending documentation to school administrators which will enable them to respond effectively to the needs of their respective communities. This includes a comprehensive listing of the type of physical and psychological symptoms to look for in students who have all been dramatically affected by this terrible event.
Mr. Lacroce and EMSB Chairman Dominic Spiridigliozzi have written to the Dawson administration to offer the services of the Board’s Traumatic Events Support Team, which is trained and experienced to deal with crisis situations.
"Dawson College is physically located in our territory," said Mr. Spiridigliozzi, himself a graduate of that CEGEP. "Therefore we know that it is a place where many EMSB grads have gone on to study."
Mr. Spiridigliozzi said that the EMSB family is in mourning over Anastasia De Sousa’s tragic death. She was a student at three EMSB schools. In 2003-2004 she attended Royal Vale High School in N.D.G., transferring to St. Pius X High School in Ahuntsic the following year. She completed her secondary studies at St. Pius X Adult Centre last year.
In a more detailed letter sent to school administrators, Mr. Lacroce recognized the fact they may find that members of their respective communities (students, staff, and parents) have been directly or indirectly affected.
"Disaster hits hard. It is difficult to understand and accept that there are events which cannot be controlled or predicted and which are not easily fixed, resolved, prevented or even understood," said Mr. Lacroce. "This tragedy will undoubtedly have a significant impact on many people whether they were victims or witnesses of the event and/or have relatives or friends who were victims."
Mr. Lacroce emphasized that it is important to understand that, following a traumatic event, even if it happened to someone else, it is normal to feel it personally. "Although each person reacts differently, according to his/her own personality and life experiences, there is a wide range of normal feelings and reactions that are generated by these horrific events," he said. "Those who are particularly vulnerable because of previous experiences of trauma or loss may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder."
Principals and centre directors are being advised to be aware of the common reactions to trauma/stress and to alert their staff and community as a whole, in order to help them cope with the experience and to understand and to aid those individuals who may be more deeply affected.
Michael J. Cohen