Students and staff at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay wear hockey jerseys on Thursday, April 12 in solidarity with the Humboldt Broncos, a junior hockey team in Saskatchewan who suffered 16 deaths and several serious injuries when their team bus collided with a container truck last Friday. (Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay/Submitted)

Masset Magic: A vigil for Humboldt

By Evelyn von Almassy

I visited Saskatchewan many years ago, stopping in Regina, Swift Current, Wayburn, and Saskatoon. I was visiting a friend who came from a large Mennonite community, and it was the first time I had ever seen buffalo. It was also when I saw the gravestones of the three striking Estevan coal miners apparently killed by the RCMP in 1931. To this day, the stones are defaced by those who do not agree with what people wrote on the stones.

I have never been to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and I would be hard-pressed to place it on a map. But this past weekend Humboldt came into my home and into my heart. By now everyone probably knows of the horrific bus and truck accident that killed 16 hockey players, coaches, the bus driver, a play-by-play radio announcer, and a stats keeper. Fourteen others were severely injured.

I immediately thought about the students, staff, and parents of Haida Gwaii, who often go on bus trips to participate in extra-curricular events, or in sports events off-island. I have known and have seen, over the past 27 years, many teams go off-island on busses and ferries, to other communities. You probably know many skiers, volleyball players, basketball teams, cross-country runners, and yes, in the past, swimmers. To a smaller extent, some chess players had to travel to the mainland for chess tournaments. Here too, students, teachers, coaches and chaperones have travelled to support islands youth.

Perhaps you listened to the Sunday vigil from Humboldt that was on the radio, or the live coverage on TV. Earlier today I heard that the crowdfunding had reached $3 million to help the families affected travel to be with their children, to stay in hotels, and in some cases, to make arrangements for their family member’s funeral. It was heartbreaking to hear the vigil and, at the same time, uplifting to hear about all the support from across Canada and around the world. Prime Minister Trudeau, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and Don Cherry were at the vigil.

Now, the good news.

Next Saturday, April 21, at 6:30 p.m., the Annual “Bow Meow Fundraiser Auctions” for Masset’s Animal Helpline begin at the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum. The $5 entrance fee brings you an evening of silent auctions and live auctions with one of the liveliest auctioneers, Andrew Merilees, leading the bidding battles.

We all know how generous the people of Haida Gwaii are, and as a fundraiser, you can help out the animals that need our help, indulge in appetizers, and perhaps leave with a treasure at the end of the night. Please call Anne Marie Mol, at 250-626-5126 or email me (address below) if you have any items to donate. I would be glad to pick them up from you. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the live auction starts at 7:00 p.m. For a night of laughter, suspense, and a good cause, come out and grab your seats early. This is one of the most popular events on the island. Sometimes I hurt at the end of the evening, because I have laughed so hard!

Be kind to each other, see you at the Bow Meow next Saturday, and remember to take a bag to the beach to help the ocean and shore life live without plastic.

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