It was her story covering the school shooting at La Loche Community School in January 2016 that changed her life, journalist Marci Ien says.
“Walking into that school with bullet holes still in the front door — I had an overwhelming sense of wanting to help those kids,” Ien told a class of Centennial College journalism students on April 10.
Looking at a photograph of the La Loche students, Ien noticed one was wearing a Raptors hat.
“I sent an email to the Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri asking him to help,” Ien said. “He called me back within minutes.”
After visiting the school with Ujiri and meeting the students, Ien flew back to Toronto with them still on her mind.
“There was this feeling that I couldn’t shake,” she said. “I needed to do something.”
Ujiri decided to bring 10 students from La Loche to Toronto. After touring Toronto hotspots, the students went to the Raptors’ practice facility, where they got to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I knew he would be in the Toronto area around the time the students were visiting, so I emailed his chief of staff about setting up a meeting,” Ien said. I didn’t expect a reply. I was wrong. He agreed.”
The next day they got to watch a Raptors game in person.
Ian said the experience has impacted her life in a way she never expected.
“It is all about human connection. I saw that Raptors hat and took a shot in the dark. It worked. The connection that was created ended up leading them to meet the prime minister,” Ien said.
“It’s that connection that brought some good out of a terrible situation. It certainly changed my life, and I hope made theirs a little better.”