The flags are at half-mast at both schools where Winnipeg Humboldt Broncos player Matthieu Gomercic attended.
Gomercic was one of the hockey players who survived the horrific bus crash that claimed the lives of 15 people.
The hockey star went to École Christine-Lespérance from Kindergarten to Grade 8, where news of the crash has shocked staff.
“Everybody was really affected and having Matthieu as a student here in the past, many teachers I spoke with this morning did teach him so they’re affected by it, everyone is affected by it,” Principal Remi Lemoine said.
The elementary school also had a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day and teachers wore green to support the team. There’s also a taped hockey stick in the school’s display case with “Humboldt Broncos” written on it as a nod to the team.
“As a parent it’s tough too because I’ve sent my kids off to nationals or whatever by bus and you want them back together in one piece. Everyone is obviously grieving and we’re here to support the Broncos in solidarity,” Lemoine said.
After Grade 8, Gomercic went to high school at Collège Jeanne-Sauvé where Vice Principal Cameron Johnson recalled seeing his towering frame walking the halls.
“He had a physical presence, he was a big guy and an athlete in the school and a popular guy with his peer group for sure,” Johnson said.
Johnson remembered hearing about the crash and finding out he knew someone on board the bus.
“It throws you for a loop for sure,” he said. “When you hear the name of someone you know, it just goes to another degree. I don’t know the words to describe it, but it’s the feeling, the emptiness there.”
Students and staff at both schools have been offered support for coping with the tragedy, while they send their thoughts and prayers to Gomercic’s family and the entire Humboldt community.