As the St. Patrick High School community learned of the death of 15-year-old student Cassidy Giroux, a crisis response plan was put into place.
“We sit down and we identify and students and staff we feel will be directly impacted and we put extra counsellors in place in our school, for the students,” says superintendent of Yellowknife Catholic Schools Claudia Parker. “We set up a quiet space where they could gather if they felt they needed to take a break from the classroom.”
Each teacher has spoken with their class about her death and held a prayer, as well as sharing the supports available to their students. There is also a spiritual display in the school where students can write messages – a portrait of Giroux painted by a fellow student sits there too.
“It’s definitely a shock for people. There are some people who are more affected than others,” says Parker. “We connected with families to make sure that the families know to keep a close eye on their children and we talked to children about speaking to people that you trust. There are different forms of grieving, but at some point, you need to be speaking to people. Don’t keep it bottled up inside you.”
It was Giroux’s first year at Ecole St. Patrick High School, she came to the school from Fort Smith. A celebration of life, not open to the public, is set for next week.
Giroux also attended Yellowknife Education District 1 schools in the past, says communications advisor Mike Gibbins. “On Tuesday our district office shared an internal letter alerting staff of the sad news and letting them know that counselling services are available to them,” he states. “School counsellors are also available for any students that are struggling with her death.”
Kids Help Phone is a support service which provides counselling, information and referrals over the phone for young people who may be struggling. The 24-hour help phone can be reached at 1-800-668-6868, via text (text CONNECT to 686868) or via video chat at https://kidshelpphone.ca/