April 12, 2018

Community is More Than Where You Live


On Friday, April 6, the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan was faced with the ultimate blow. A bus carrying 29 passengers, members of the Humbolt Broncos Junior A hockey team, was hit by a semi-trailer truck on their way to a playoff game. To date, 16 people have died, and some remain in critical condition. To say hundreds of lives have been impacted is an understatement.

Truth is, this tragedy has encompassed many of my thoughts this week. It's just so, so sad. You think of the parents, the siblings, the partners and friends. I'm reminded of the billet families and the larger community of people who have supported these team members and this organization for years. In small towns like Humboldt, Jr. A hockey is a pretty big deal. The athletes are local celebrities, a title I've been called once or twice.

Community is More Than Where You Live 

It's safe to say the majority of the world hadn't heard of Humboldt, Saskatchewan prior to Friday's crash. And yet, today, we are all Humboldt. I'm not from a small town like Humboldt, but I have visited small towns, both for work and for pleasure; and as a community television producer for more than 12 years, I truly believe that community is much more than where you live. And contrary to what we've been told time and time again, small-town happenings do matter. Local matters. Community matters.

Silver Linings

A little while ago, I went to a conference where a speaker talked about silver linings. She said in the face of bad news or tragedy, try and find a silver lining. It's pretty difficult to do that in this situation, and I'm not sure it would provide much comfort to those who have lost a loved one.

But there are a few silver linings here. Take a look at the support, both financially and otherwise, from the international community. This is more than just hockey. This is human. This is raw. Millions of people have put hockey sticks outside their home as a tribute to the lives lost. Today in Toronto, and beyond, is Jersey Day, a day where the community at large wears jerseys to remind ourselves and honour the Jr. A Broncos.

And of course, the GoFundMe campaign, which, at the time writing this piece, had surpassed $9 Million -- one of the largest campaigns to date.

The Humboldt tragedy will never go away in that small town in the Prairies, with a population of nearly 6,000. This is a loss that will be felt forever; it has changed the history of the town, the province and the hockey community.

But I'll argue that it has changed all of us, at least a little. It reminds us, once again, the fleetingness of life, and how everything can change in a moment. It reminds me to continue to tell the stories in my local community because I believe (and I'm willing to believe others agree) they are important. And people DO care.

Lastly, it reminds me that community isn't where you live, it's about uniting people. It's right there in the word: UNITY.

Today, and for the next little while, we're all united with Humboldt.


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