James Risdon

Bathurst, New Brunswick

Ten years after the fateful night which tragically took seven Phantoms basketball players and their coach’s wife from us, the memorial to these Boys in Red is still there along the highway outside of Bathurst, New Brunswick.
 
Even though my wife and I were then yet still new to the community, our eldest daughter was a student at Bathurst High School and so we decided, out of respect for the families and friends of these teenaged victims, to attend the memorial in our local arena, the K.C. Irving Regional Centre.
 
I didn’t know any of these boys personally so I thought this tragedy would leave me relatively unscathed. But that was far from the truth. As I stopped by every single casket to pay my respects, I repeatedly came in contact with people I knew who were parents and friends, brothers and sisters, of our Boys in Red.
 
Those left behind to mourn were devastated. All I could do is be there for them and offer whatever support I could.
 
Perhaps because of that tragedy that hit us so hard here in Bathurst, I was particularly touched today as I stood in church as our priest requested we observe a minute of silence for you, the people of Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Here, at Holy Family Parish, the pews were packed today with people most of you have never met who nonetheless had their heads bowed in prayer and who asked God to help you through this and offered up prayers for your fallen boys and young men. In the pew in front of us, an elderly woman wept. Others were visibly moved.
 
You are not alone.
 
That will not unfortunately change what has happened in your community. It will not remove the grief. It will not lighten the trauma for those who survived or fill he heart-wrenching emptiness in the hearts of family and friends. It cannot banish what is every parent’s worst nightmare. I wish to God I could do more for you folks right now.
 
But maybe, in some small way, just knowing that we are here, praying for you, and that we understand something of what is happening in your community, in your homes and your workplaces, may provide some small measure of comfort. I hope so.
 
That is why I am sharing this with you today.
 
Although we are on the other side of the continent, we are praying for you. We want you to know we are standing with you in this your time of need.
 
May God bless you all and guide you through these dark days to better times ahead.
 
Yours in Christ,

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