Green and yellow
By Chad Ingram
Published April 12, 2018
Hockey rinks remain the heart of many small towns across Canada.
Haliburton and Minden are of course no exception. Look at the way county residents packed the A.J. LaRue Arena just less than two weeks ago to watch the Highland Storm Midget team win the All-Ontario Championships against the Dunnville Mudcats. Their victory shot a wave of pride through the community, even for those of us whose only affiliation with hockey includes watching the odd Leafs game on a Saturday night.
Hockey may be Canada’s national pastime, but in many of its smallest communities, hockey is more than a sport. It is a way of life.
That’s what makes the heartbreaking horror of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy so poignant for small-town Canadians; it’s so relatable.
The population of Humboldt, Saskatchewan is approximately 6,000 people. That’s roughly the population of the Municipality of Dysart et al, or the Township of Minden Hills. It’s about a third of the year-round population of Haliburton County.
Think, for a moment, about what it would be like if such an unspeakably horrific incident took place in our community. You would almost certainly know a family who’d lost a child. You would quite possibly know more than one. You might be one. Your children would almost certainly go to school with children who’d lost a sibling. The point is, it’s very easy to understand how such a tragedy would shake an entire community to its very core.
Who would these young men have become, and what would they have done with their lives? Where would they have travelled, who might they have married, and who might their children have been?
These are questions that will go unanswered for all of time.
In times like these, words become irrelevant, immeasurably dwarfed by the vastness of the heartache. Actions are the only thing that will come close to being sufficient, although sufficiency is not possible. Within 24 hours of the bus crash, some $2 million had been raised online for the families of the Broncos players who lost their lives. So at least amid their unimaginable grief, they will not have to worry about where the money to lay their children to rest will come from.
Grief poured out in the highest echelons of sport, with NHL players and other professional athletes paying tribute to the Broncos on their uniforms, a bleary-eyed Don Cherry addressing the country on Hockey Night in Canada.
Beyond the realm of sport, international leaders called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to offer condolences.
Across the country, displays of solidarity continue. Today, the day this column is published, students in the county and throughout the Trillium Lakelands District School Board are wearing sports jerseys and the Broncos’ colours of green and yellow to school.
When words lose their power, the only thing to do is come together.
It’s what small communities do.