The grief in downtown Humboldt is real; it’s undeniable.
But so too is the solidarity after an unspeakable tragedy where more than a dozen members of the Humboldt Broncos Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) team and their support staff were killed when their bus and a semi crashed Friday afternoon.
Vehicles drove down Main Street with “Prayers for Humboldt” bumper stickers. Fire hydrants were plastered with Broncos stickers of their own.
Businesses down the main drag showed their support too. Many stores have set up foldable signs with “Humboldt Strong” written on them. Some have it written in their windows in yellow and green lettering.
One business accidentally had “Humboldt Stong” written in the window until an elderly couple walking by noticed the mistake as an employee was busy finishing up her window creation.
The three exchanged smiles, something that may be viewed as a rare sight lately.
“I feel like everybody is walking around just, I don’t want to say in a daze, but sort of,” said Amy Schneider, wearing a Broncos bunnyhug.
She said everyone has been affected by this crash.
“It’s heavy,” agreed fellow resident Tracey Reifferscheid, speaking about the weight of the tragedy.
She owns Infinite Creations, which specializes in therapies and wellness.
“It’s darkness. So we’re all trying to just…how can we bring some light?” Reifferscheid asked.
A few stores down, Colette Rheaume bought a number of hockey sticks and green tape. She said she was going to put them outside of her home like so many others have already done across Canada.
“You just have to stick together,” she said with a trembling voice as her eyes welled with tears.
She bought the sticks at Universal Sports, where owner Mark Doepker said the phone has been ringing and ringing, those on the other end are calling from Quebec, Ontario and B.C. to name a few places.
“I think I cried more this morning when people were phoning and asking for things — jerseys and so on and so forth — than I did the whole weekend,” Doepker admitted.
“Not that it didn’t hit home before, but it really hits home now.”
He said the coping with the crash will be tough for a long time, believing that people will never truly get over it, especially in Humboldt and especially the families who were directly impacted.
Reifferscheid has taken a different approach. Instead of focusing on what the world lost, she is trying to focus on what the world gained from having these men.
“These were beautiful individuals. They contributed so much to us.”