Humboldt, Hockey, Home

I’ve written before about how much I love Canada. Our country does many things well, like providing quality health care for all, welcoming newcomers, and respecting the many diverse people groups in this big space.

These are all qualities easily seen from the outside and so they are embedded in Canada’s reputation. But something that might not be as well known is this – Canada excels at grieving together.

We saw it when the Tragically Hip played their last concert after Gordon Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer. The entire country practically shut down during the televised event. It was all anyone spoke about for days.

And we saw it again this week when the Humboldt Broncos hockey team were involved in a terrible collision. 16 team members and staff died and the whole country is in mourning.

People are leaving hockey sticks outside with their porch lights on, money – so much money – is pouring into the community who lost their loved ones, and on Thursday (the first day of the many funerals) people across the country wore jerseys.

It didn’t matter which team. It didn’t matter which league. It didn’t even matter whether they were hockey or ringette jerseys. On that day they were all Broncos jerseys.

Schools announced it. Workplaces encouraged it. Employers told their workers to forgo their uniforms in favour of jerseys.

People shared jerseys with those who didn’t have their own. And if no jersey was available people wore the team colours, green and yellow.

I saw it on Facebook, and twitter, and in the streets. As I ran errands the city looked markedly different. There was a feeling of solidarity and solemnity even though we were all wearing a garment usually associated with celebration.

Canada obviously isn’t perfect, and there are some pretty major issues we need to resolve, just like any country, but it’s home and I love it.

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