SJHL Assistance Program gains more partners

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League continues to make plans to help those affected by the tragic April 6 bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos.

After first announcing plans of a new Assistance Program, the SJHL has more partners on board for the SJHL Assistance Program.

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During the announcement on April 9, SJHL President Bill Chow noted the program would be run in partnership with Federated Co-operatives Limited.

Since then 22Fresh has come on board as the official apparel sponsor of the program, with other companies such as H & M also jumping on board.

During an April 12 press conference, Chow was pleased to announce the addition of two organizations to their assistance program.

Both Country Thunder Music Festivals and the Canadian Red Cross of Saskatchewan have been announced as the latest partners.

Country Thunder Music Festivals vice-president of operations Ted Gross announced an April 27 benefit concert at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, with all proceeds going to benefit the families of the Humboldt Broncos players, coaches, and staff who were injured or lost their lives in the tragic accident.

“Entertainment in general, and music in particular, has the power to help to heal the soul. Not only will this concert benefit the families directly, we hope that it can help the healing process for our hockey family, the tight knit community of

Humboldt, and the people of Saskatchewan,” Country Thunder Music Festivals announced in a press release.

Gross noted the concert is in the early stages of planning, saying it is a fluid situation.

“We do have some confirmed acts, I can’t say them today, however next week or early next week we will be coming out with more details for this benefit concert,” noted Gross.

While Country Thunder Music Festivals in planning a benefit concert, the Canadian Red Cross Saskatchewan says they will be helping on a much different scale.

Vice-president of Canadian Red Cross Saskatchewan, Cindy Fuchs, announced during the press conference, that their organization would be providing psychosocial first aid programming to those in need.

“Essentially it’s a short online program with two components, one is care for self and one is care for others. Both of those will help families, players, personnel with the SJHL understand the effects of stress, loss and grief on themselves and on others,” noted Fuchs during the press conference.

Fuchs noted that in addition, the Red Cross will be providing support for the families by linking them to professionals in their communities through a Red Cross support line.

“We’ll be not offering those professional supports because there’s many other organizations that can do that but we’ll be the caveat to actually direct people to those resources,” Fuchs noted.

“As with all disasters and crises, the Canadian Red Cross’s intent is to assist where needed and when asked by both communities and our partners such as the SJHL.”

The Assistance Program was set up as a way to raise funds for all people affected by the tragedy, not just those associated with the Broncos.

“The reality for players is that the hockey world is small… everyone who plays, works, volunteers, or is involved with the SJHL will have direct, and deeply personal, connections with the victims of Friday’s crash,” said an SJHL press release.

“Even in competition, players know who they are going up against. In some cases, you may play against a team as often as ten times in a regular season and another seven in the playoffs.  The familiarity within our league is immense and it is far reaching.”

The program will aid in providing mental health assistance, counseling and grieving for all players of the SJHL, with any additional funds being places in the education plan in memory of those who lost their lives on April 6 or in the days that followed.

“The SJHL is a family, so we recognize that while there is grieving to be done within Humboldt; there is also a lot of suffering with the other eleven teams and it’s imperative that support structure is put in to place.”

One of the first steps in the grieving process for Estevan and Nipawin came on April 14 when they got back on the ice for game one of the SJHL championship series.

Estevan picked up the game one win, but a 4-1 win by Nipawin the following night has the series heading back to Estevan tied at one.

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