April 6th marks the second anniversary of the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash that occurred in 2018, near Tisdale, Saskatchewan. The crash was a catastrophic and tragic accident that costed the lives of 16 people within the Broncos organization. The team was on their way to an SJHL playoff game when a transport truck ran a stop sign and collided with the bus.
The tragedy and loss felt by the communities of the team and their families was immeasurable. However, the nationwide support and recognition was remarkable. The widespread memorials and tributes to those who were in the accident was enormous. Memorial services were held across the country attended by hundreds of people. People left sticks out on their porch for the players that passed and took to social media with the hashtag #SticksOutForHumboldt; people even wrote songs as tribute for the Broncos. A GoFundMe page for the Broncos raised over $15 million dollars and is the largest GoFundMe fundraiser in Canadian history. The Broncos were also honoured at the NHL awards in Las Vegas in 2019. And, the crew of the HMCS Regina, a Canadian Navy frigate, renamed their helicopter after the Broncos.
The crash was an accident that shook the nation.
Canadians all over Canada did their part to show their support. Many see the nation’s collective response to the tragedy as an expression of Canadian and Prairie identity. Hockey is collectively accepted as “Canada’s national sport” and a huge part of Canadian culture, and researchers believe that communities can use tragedies as a way to express patriotism and build social solidarity, which is evident in this case. The national recognition and support hardly comes close to anything seen before. The true extent of the media coverage and the widespread support can be speculated as to how important it is to Canadian identity and the hockey community, however, what cannot be debated is that the Humboldt Broncos bus crash was an immeasurable loss for the players’ families and the hockey community that continues to be felt. May they rest in peace.