It was a chance for the Nipawin community to get together to grieve, tell stories and, perhaps, even forgive.
The Nipawin Apostolic Church hosted a candlelight vigil April 8 in honour of the victims of a collision of the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus and a semi-trailer near Armley. The Broncos were on route to play a game against the Nipawin Hawks.
“It’s better when we get together,” Jordan Gadsby, the Apostolic Church’s pastor, told the audience, many wearing some kind of hockey jersey. “Thank you for being together.”
Derek Granfield, the Hawks’ chaplain, recalled when he found out about the tragedy.
“On Friday I was driving home from Regina, trying to catch the game. I got a phone call around the Naicam area and a nightmare I had never considered happened,” he said. “I thought the largest challenge with the team would be, maybe, dealing with an injured player.”
He asked Joel Diamond, the pastor of the Alliance Church, to go pray with the team that night.
“I want to tell you what was impressed upon me as I entered into the dressing room, was a bunch of young men who had each other to support one another,” Diamond said. “They and the staff were there together, going through this experience and the shock of it all.”
Granfield said chaplains of hockey teams from all over have come to Saskatoon to help and pray with the families of the Broncos. He told the audience he wanted to share a story one of them told about head coach Darcy Haugan’s family.
Haugan was one of 15 who died in the crash.
“His family gathered today and the moment for a time of prayer approached,” he said. “The adults were unable to utter any words because they grieved, but Darcy’s 12-year-old son Carson stepped forward and led with a powerful prayer for his family.”
The church was full for the ceremony. Live music was played and prayers were offered for the injured players, the families of the deceased, all of the communities and even the driver of the semi.
“There’s one person who must be the most lonely person today and that is the driver of the semi,” Diamond said.
Coun. Jan Boughen spoke on behalf of the Town of Nipawin.
“We would like to express extreme condolences to the families of those that are lost, as well as to the entire community of Humboldt,” she said. “Our thoughts are with the players and staff who are still fighting to recover from their injuries. Our thoughts are also with the Nipawin Hawks players, staff and board, many of whom lost friends and colleagues.”
Gadsby also told the audience there’s been support from every corner of the community in this tragic time.
“I want you to know there’s been support that’s come in across the world, people calling in, messaging, emailing, saying we’re praying for you, we’re praying for these families,” he said. “I’ve had calls from New Brunswick and B.C., Texas and Florida, Australia and New Zealand. People care about what’s happening.”
After the ceremony, counsellors were available at the church to help people deal with their grief.