Chilliwack school district responds to violent Abbotsford attack

District assures parents and staff counselling and security plans in place, in wake of stabbing death of Abbotsford Senior Secondary student

The scene at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Wednesday morning was in stark contrast to the chaos that erupted on Tuesday afternoon after a double stabbing occurred.

The scene at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Wednesday morning was in stark contrast to the chaos that erupted on Tuesday afternoon after a double stabbing occurred.

RCMP were on site at Chilliwack’s high schools on Wednesday, following the shocking attack on Tuesday at Abbotsford Secondary School.

Two female students were stabbed at that school by a male who is not a student there, and one of the girls has since died from her injuries.

Chilliwack School District staff confirmed they have been in contact with the RCMP, and that police were attending all three local high schools on Wednesday. They also ensured someone would be there emotionally for any students affected by the tragedy.

“Our counseling staff are on deck to support any students who are struggling,” Janet Hall, director of instruction told The Progress.

A letter was sent to parents and staff as well.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic event that took place at Abbotsford Senior Secondary yesterday.  As we reflect on yesterday’s events, our hearts go out to the family and friends of the students involved and we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families of both students,” the letter states.

“Violent events like this one remind us of the importance of our collective efforts to keep students and staff safe.  Be assured that we have school emergency management guidelines to assist schools in preparing for and responding to any type of emergency, including human caused events such as this one.

“Student and staff safety continues to be a top priority in Chilliwack and we are supporting schools in whatever way we can during this difficult period.”

The district reviewed both their lockdown and their hold-and-secure procedures this fall, Hall added.

A message also went out to staff as they work to support students.

The district has asked teachers to “model calmness,” and reassure students they are safe and that emergency procedures are in place. They also requested avoiding class discussions, watching students who seem to be struggling, referring those students to counsellors.

Finally, the district asked staff to “be compassionate; be open and truly “available” during this critical time.”

Students at Abbotsford Senior Secondary and Abbotsford Middle School were kept in lockdown for several hours Tuesday following the incident, as police swept through the building.

Abbotsford Senior Secondary was closed on Wednesday and grief counselling was made available at a church across the street. Citizens were being asked to wear red and black, the school colours, in support of the victims and the school community.

A suspect was taken into custody at the scene. On Wednesday morning, the Abbotsford Police Department held a news conference praising school staff for their quick action. They also said the attack was random, and there is no connection between the suspect and the school or the victims.

The University of the Fraser Valley has also opened the lines of communications for grieving students and staff, acknowledging that the current mid-term season is already a stressful time.

“In light of yesterday’s tragic incident at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, and as this time of the year tends to be highly stressful for our students with mid-term exams, we wanted to remind you of the support available for our students,” UFV’s main Facebook page states. “UFV Counsellors are available to support students who may appear in distress.”

Several politicians have expressed condolences for the victims and the community, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Mike Bernier.