Sundown in the Paris of the Prairies


Canadiana / Sunday, April 8th, 2018

I first heard about the bus crash late at night. I had fallen asleep in the early evening and woken around 9 or 10. Joe didn’t mention it, but when I looked at Twitter later than night the news was everywhere. It was clearly a very bad accident. The news was that many had died, but no one knew who or how many.

Tweets started coming out. The coach was gone. One woman knew only that her son was being airlifted to hospital.

I watched until I couldn’t stay awake any longer, my heart heaving.

For years I was a dedicated fan of the Ottawa 67’s. The 67’s are one level above what the Humboldt Broncos play. When I left in Ottawa, I lived in Belleville, where the Belleville Bulls sold out every single home game – mostly through season tickets, was my understand. When I left college I went to Fort Frances, Ontario and covered sports in town. It would have been hard to say whether the local SIJHL team or the high school Muskies were more popular. That town loved its hockey.

I loved hockey. I loved my teams. I’ve ridden the bus.

I cannot begin to imagine what Humboldt, Saskatchewan is feeling right now. Beyond devastation. Heartbreak. Knowing that nothing will ever be the same again.

We’ve all had moments in our lives when we felt that – change. But it’s rare for an entire community to feel it all together. To come together in grief, each supporting the other. To see the country come around you. It’s a collective nightmare but it builds collective strength and an identity they will all share forever.

None of them will ever be over it. None of them will ever forget. And the rest of us will try to be with them as they remember.