Fact Check: Viral image – How do you count school shootings in Canada? Depends on how you classify the incidents

Fact Check: Viral image – How do you count school shootings in Canada? Depends on how you classify the incidents

Recent Facebook posts advocating for gun restrictions argue that such policies have worked so well in Canada there have been less than a dozen school shooting deaths in the country’s history. 

“Canadian here, your neighbour with cold winters and sensible gun laws,” reads a screenshot of a tweet in two different Facebook posts. “Did you know we’ve had 11 school shooting deaths? Not this month or this year, but total, in history. And absolutely no deaths in elementary schools. Why? Because gun laws save lives.” 

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The original tweet was published in June 2022, less than two weeks after the deadly elementary school shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 people dead. That tweet included in its Twitter thread a caveat that’s missing in these Facebook posts: The original poster was focusing on shootings at primary and secondary schools in Canada, not colleges and universities. 

In February 2022, The Toronto Star published “a list of some past Canadian school shootings.” In 2016, after four people were killed in a shooting in the Saskatchewan community of La Loche, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. published a list of other deadly school shootings in Canada. 

Here’s what we found reviewing both lists and looking elsewhere for reports of deadly school shootings in Canada. 

Daycare, primary and secondary school shootings 

Depending on how you cut the numbers, we identified 11 people who died in day care, primary and secondary school shootings in Canada’s history. But that number rises to 15 with the inclusion of four other victims: two boys who were shot at their home before the perpetrator (a high school student) shot two employees at his school; a teacher who was killed by her estranged husband in a school parking lot; and a former student who was shot in front of his old school. The death toll would rise again to 18 with the inclusion of three suspects who killed themselves at the schools. 

Here are the incidents when those deaths occurred.

October 2022, one dead: An 18-year-old and former student of Woburn Collegiate Institute, a high school, was shot and killed in a shooting in front of the campus. 

February 2022, one dead: A 14-year-old was charged with first-degree murder after an 18-year-old died after a shooting at a high school in Toronto. 

January 2016, four dead: A La Loche Community School student shot and killed two teenage boys at their home and then two employees at the Saskatchewan high school. 

April 2013, two dead: A 38-year-old employee was shot and killed at the day care facility of Les Racines de vie Montessori in Gatineau, Quebec. The perpetrator then killed himself.

May 2007, one dead: A 15-year-old died after being shot at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, a high school in Toronto. 

December 2004, one dead: A teacher at Bramalea Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, was shot and killed in the parking lot by her estranged husband. Police considered the incident a domestic dispute, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

April 1999, one dead: A 17-year-old student is shot and killed at W.R. Myers High in Taber, Alberta.

October 1978, one dead: A 16-year-old was killed in a shooting at Sturgeon Creek School, a high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

October 1975, three dead: Two people were killed after an 18-year-old student at Saint Pius X, a secondary school in Ottawa, opened fire on his classmates. He killed himself. 

May 1975, three dead: A 16-year-old student killed two people and then himself at Brampton Centennial Secondary School in Ontario. 

College and university shootings

Twenty-five other people, including two suspects who killed themselves at the campuses, have died in shootings at colleges and universities in Canada. 

February 2022, one dead: A 12th grader was killed in a shooting at Woburn Collegiate Institute, a high school in Scarborough. 

June 2012, three dead: Three people were killed in a robbery at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

September 2006, two dead: An 18-year-old was killed when a gunman opened fire at Dawson College in Laval, Quebec. The shooter killed himself. 

December 1989, 15 dead: A 25-year-old shot and killed 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique, a university in Montreal. The shooter killed himself.

August 1992, four dead: A professor at Concordia University in Montreal shot and killed four of his colleagues. 

Even though gun ownership is relatively high in Canada, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, the country doesn’t struggle with the same level of gun violence as in the United States. The 1989 shooting at Ecole Polytechnique is “widely credited with driving major gun reforms” in Canada, the think tank says, including a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases, mandatory safety training courses, bans on large-capacity magazines and greater restrictions on military-style weapons.  

Our ruling

The posts claim Canada has had only 11 school shooting deaths in history. Under the narrowest interpretation of a school shooting victim — on campus, not considered a domestic violence incident and not including suspects who died by suicide after the attack — that appears to be correct. 

It leaves out important details: About two dozen other people have been killed in school shootings on college and university campuses. Plus, at least four other victims connected to shootings on primary and secondary school campuses aren’t counted here. 

We rate this claim Half True.

PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.


Source: PolitiFact.

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