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Editorial: We are one team

Rosanna Manzer supporting the hashtag #PutYourSticksOut in support of the Humboldt Broncos.
A show of support for the hashtag #PutYourSticksOut in support of the Humboldt Broncos. — Submitted photo

The funerals began even as the death toll continued to mount. A shocked nation is deep into the grieving process.

The first funeral was held Thursday even as news spread that team trainer Dayna Brons had died from her injuries. It brings to 16 the number of dead among the 29 on board a bus heading to a Humboldt Broncos junior hockey playoff game — a trip which ended in unfathomable tragedy.

Some of the survivors remain in critical condition.

In businesses, classrooms and newsroom across Canada, sports jerseys were worn Thursday in response to a challenge from a group of British Columbia hockey moms, asking Canadians to wear a sports jersey or even a ribbon as a show of solidarity with victims' families in Humboldt, Sask.

Canadians rushed to support the bereaved families, donating more than $8 million to a GoFundMe campaign, wearing jerseys, putting hockey sticks on front porches, and sending messages of condolence.

Although Humboldt is thousands of kilometres away, the tragedy hits home in many Atlantic communities where sports teams and so many other groups get on buses every day to represent a school, a team or community in competitions and events.

We want Humboldt to know it is not alone.

Experts tell us such displays of support are immeasurably beneficial to the families, friends and teammates of the Broncos as they grapple with their shock and grief. People need support as they try to understand this calamity and deal with their loss.

Although Humboldt is thousands of kilometres away, the tragedy hits home in many Atlantic communities where sports teams and so many other groups get on buses every day to represent a school, a team or community in competitions and events.

Hockey teams from NHL to atom house league stand together with the Broncos. It is why players from the Halifax Mooseheads and Charlottetown Islanders gathered in solidarity before the start of their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs games this week. Rivalries were put aside and players all become part of the national sports family. Similar scenes were repeated in communities across Atlantic Canada and the nation.

Humboldt’s imprint is being felt in the Canadian landscape. The Broncos played on P.E.I. 15 years ago when the Royal Bank Cup junior A hockey championship was hosted in Charlottetown. While Humboldt lost to Camrose, Alta. 3-1 in that final, the starry Broncos dominated the individual awards. The team went on to win two Royal Bank Cups in the years following.

It’s a small world, and we are all part of that tight-knit hockey family.

The start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, usually an exciting time for teams and fans — is tempered now by the Humboldt tragedy, when so many NHL players and coaches have a connection with that Prairie community and province. It puts things into perspective.

The message behind this week’s campaigns to support victims of the Humboldt tragedy is, “We are all one team.”

Let’s continue to remember that as the dead are laid to rest.

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