‘Hockey family’ pays its respects
Humboldt Broncos remembered at vigil
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.