‘Hockey fam­ily’ pays its re­spects

Hum­boldt Bron­cos re­mem­bered at vigil

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - CAROL SAN­DERS carol.san­ders@freep­ress.mb.ca

ORE than 130 mem­bers of Win­nipeg’s ex­tended “hockey fam­ily” at­tended a vigil Mon­day night for the 16 peo­ple killed in the Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus crash.

Vigil-go­ers were met with a hockey net and a lone white orchid in it. A ban­ner was spread out on a ta­ble for at­ten­dees to sign and of­fer con­do­lences. In­side the big church on Wilkes Av­enue, the al­tar was set with a “Hum­boldt Bron­cos Strong” video screen and green lights in homage to the Saskatchewan Ju­nior Hockey League team’s play­ers, staff and me­dia who died fol­low­ing the April 6 col­li­sion with a semi-truck.

Those in at­ten­dance wore hockey jer­seys. Some car­ried hockey sticks.

“Ev­ery­body’s son was on that bus,” said Win­nipeg hockey mom Karen Jacques, who or­ga­nized Mon­day night’s vigil.

“I wanted to reach out to peo­ple,” said Jacques, whose 16-year-old son plays hockey.

My Church Win­nipeg (for­merly Im­manuel Pen­te­costal Church) played host to the event. Win­nipeg Jets team chap­lain Lorne Korol, Mayor Brian Bow­man and Win­nipeg Fire Para­medic Ser­vice Chief John Lane were lined up to speak at the vigil.

Jacques said she wanted Man­i­toba’s “hockey fam­ily” to be there, and in­vited bus com­pa­nies and their driv­ers, and ev­ery­one con­nected to the sport in some way, to come to­gether to pray for the fam­i­lies who lost loved ones. “This is what Win­nipeg could do.”

Four hockey teams, close to 30 mem­bers of the WFPS and mem­bers of the hockey com­mu­nity at­tended the vigil.

“It’s nice to see how strong the com­mu­nity is,” said Graeme Parker, a for­ward with the Win­nipeg Bru­ins of the Man­i­toba AAA Midget Hockey League.

MHe and his team­mates who gath­ered be­fore the ser­vice said they’ve logged many, many miles on buses go­ing down des­o­late stretches of win­ter high­way. Hockey has taken them as far north as Thomp­son and on road trips to Shoal Lake, with games in Brandon along the way. See­ing images of the wreck­age of the Bron­cos bus on that Saskatchewan high­way was jar­ring, they said.

“It re­ally hits home,” said Corbin Mari­ash, who also plays for­ward for the Bru­ins. That was like­wise true for bus op­er­a­tors haul­ing pre­cious hu­man cargo.

“That’s my worst night­mare,” said Rachelle Hart, a driver with Ex­clu­sive Bus Lines, who brought one of the com­pany’s buses to the vigil. She and the com­pany’s sales man­ager, An­nie Clark, were there to show their sup­port. Clark said they’re re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing safe trans­porta­tion, and the heart­break of the Bron­cos tragedy re­minds them that, at the end of the day, all their pas­sen­gers are “some­one’s ba­bies.”

Hockey touches ev­ery­one in these parts in some way, said Tom Poirier, op­er­a­tions pas­tor with My Church Win­nipeg.

“It’s in­grained in our so­ci­ety and our cul­ture,” he said.

That’s why more than $12 mil­lion has been raised through crowd­fund­ing for the Hum­boldt Bron­cos. More than 130,000 in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses from Canada and other coun­tries have do­nated be­tween $50 and $50,000 to the GoFundMe cam­paign — called Funds for Hum­boldt Bron­cos — which was orig­i­nally ded­i­cated to cov­er­ing the ex­penses of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

The idea of send­ing “thoughts and prayers” to those im­pacted wasn’t enough for many, said Poirier, point­ing to the fundraiser and peo­ple such as Jacques or­ga­niz­ing vig­ils like the one Mon­day.


Vigil-go­ers raise their sticks Mon­day in trib­ute to the Hum­boldt Bron­cos at My Church Win­nipeg on Wilkes Av­enue.

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