Ladysmith residents like so many across Canada are in mourning following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that left 15 people dead and over a dozen others seriously injured.
Mayor Aaron Stone put forward a motion supported by council on Monday night encouraging community members to consider leaving a hockey stick outside Frank Jameson Community Centre (FJCC) starting today until next Tuesday.
“Just as a sign to give people an outlet to talk to their kids and their families about grief and show them how communities can express themselves and maybe do something good at the same time,” said an emotional Stone.
All of the sticks placed outside FJCC over the coming days will be donated to local youth sports.
Images are being posted on social media from across the country, including here in Ladysmith, of people leaving hockey sticks outside their front door, some also with a candle “to signify those lost kids and no matter where they are there’s a stick for them,” the mayor added.
On Friday, a charter bus carrying the Saskatchewan junior hockey team collided with a semi-trailer at a rural intersection northeast of Saskatoon leaving 10 players, two coaches, the team’s announcer, an intern and the bus driver all dead.
A GoFundMe campaign for the survivors and victims’ families has raised more than $6.5-million as of Tuesday morning.
“If you stop and think there probably could have been the next Prime Minster of Canada, there could have been the next Canadian astronaut, there’s no telling what future those young people could have had in front of them,” said Councillor Duck Paterson.
Many in Ladysmith are also planning to wear their sports jerseys on Thursday after B.C. hockey moms came up with the campaign to show solidarity for Humboldt.
Councillor Steve Arnett said his heart goes out to those who have lost their children as well as those who are still recovering in hospital.
“I guess the thing that we can do to honour what’s happened is to remind us all that the volunteers, and all of the businesses, and the general residents that support the local sports teams to provide an avenue for kids to grow up with a good set of values, and a sense of belonging, and other things that build character for future citizens, it reminds us of how important they are to our town,” he said.
In addition to the memorial at FJCC, the town will also fly its flags at half-mast for the next week and send letters of condolences to the team, community and families of Humboldt.
“For a town of 5,600 people, almost half the size of our town…I can only imagine what that team means to Humboldt, Saskatchewan and all those kids, and staff and team members and coaches,” Stone said.