WESTVILLE ROAD – Pictou County’s hockey community will gather to remember the victims of the Humboldt bus tragedy on Thursday.
The Friday afternoon crash in Saskatchewan has rocked the hockey world “and has connected with so many of my own friends who live in different places all over Canada,” said JoAnne Reynolds, one of the organizers.
“We don’t know them personally, we’ve never met them, but we know their story.”
A vigil is planned for 7:30 p.m. outside the Pictou County Wellness Centre (PCWC), where the flags have been flying at half-mast this week, with hockey sticks secured to the flag poles.
“Probably around lunch time (Tuesday), JoAnne called me,” said Carol Houston, who is also an organizer. “She said, ‘Can we get this together in 24 hours?’ and I said, ‘OK, let’s get to work.’”
Reynolds, who has two teenage sons who play hockey, said when she approached the PCWC about the idea, they were completely on board with making it happen. “(Management) was like, ‘Let’s do this. What do you need?’”
Through social media, the idea of holding a vigil on Thursday gained momentum, and not just in our area; across the country, similar events will take place.
Organizers of the Pictou County vigil have had many people reach out to them, offering assistance.
“You hear all kinds of bad news, but sometimes it’s forgotten there are a lot of good people in the community,” Houston said.
The crash last Friday on a remote Saskatchewan highway took 15 lives – players, coaches, and support staff with the Humboldt Broncos (as well as a radio broadcaster), a team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“It really hits home,” Houston said. “Everybody knows someone who is on one of those buses, week in and week out. Coaches, kids, the parents and families.”
Also Thursday, people are being encouraged to wear a hockey jersey to the vigil. At New Glasgow Academy, just one of the local schools supporting Humboldt in any number of ways, students will wear jerseys of green and gold, the Humboldt Broncos official team colours.
The Pictou County Minor Hockey Association is encouraging its members to lend their support on Thursday at the PCWC.
At the vigil, people will be able to sign condolence books, to be sent to Humboldt. Those who show up are asked to bring a candle, or even a flashlight, and to wear hockey jerseys or the Broncos’ colours, if they choose.
“Don’t feel you shouldn’t attend just because you don’t have a kid in hockey,” Reynolds said.
“This is a community gathering.”
Scheduled to say a few words are Junior A Crushers coach Doug Doull, goaltender Luke Melanson and Yvonne McChesney of Stellarton, who is a billeter for the Crushers.