The school in La Loche was on lockdown for most of the afternoon, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police urged parents to stay away while they responded to the yesterday's 'ongoing serious incident'.

A nearby elementary school was also shuttered "as a precaution," a federal police spokeswoman said.

The school shooting is the deadliest in 26 years in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Summit, said: "There was a shooting in the community, five people were killed (and) two others are in critical condition."

The suspected shooter has been taken into custody and police have the situation under control, he said.

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