Sports jerseys were the clothing of choice Thursday for thousands of Canadians who wanted to show support for Humboldt in the wake of heartbreak.
Sixteen people, including players, coaching staff, a play-by-play broadcaster and statistician, died as a result of injuries suffered on April 6, when the Broncos’ team bus was involved in a crash with a semi-truck. Thirteen others were injured.
The initiative #JerseysforHumboldt was first proposed on Facebook by a group of hockey parents in British Columbia as a way to honour the Saskatchewan junior hockey team.
The show of solidarity was particularly strong in St. Albert, a small Alberta community that has been deeply affected by the Humboldt tragedy.
Two Broncos players — Logan Hunter and Stephen Wack — graduated from St. Albert Catholic High School.
“I was here for a year with Stephen and then I was actually here for the three years with Logan,” principal Danielle Karaki said.
“It is hard. I think especially as the staff, we spend so much time with these kids, so it really is tough.
“It feels like they’re your own children. I know for the staff it kind of felt like they lost two of their own. I can’t imagine what their families have been feeling,” Karaki said.
Students have been signing yearbooks from the years Logan and Stephen graduated as a way to honour them. The yearbooks will be presented to their families at a later date.
Kacey Jost graduated with Logan Hunter last year. She returned to St. Albert Catholic High School to do some upgrading.
“Sometimes it just still feels like he’s away for hockey,” she said.
“We can’t imagine the depth and breadth of the pain that everybody is feeling because everybody has been affected in some sort of way.”
Geoff Giacobbo said staff are having a hard time too.
“It’s been a tough week,” he told Global News.
Jaxon Joseph was part of the sports academy program and last year the Humboldt Bronco worked on the ice with students, alongside his father, former Oiler Chris Joseph.
“It hurts,” Giacobbo said. “We’re trying to be as supportive as we can, wearing jerseys and ribbons and putting hockey sticks on our porches.”
Watch: Canadians leaving hockey sticks on front porches to pay tribute to Humboldt Broncos
Many of the students at the school have sat in classes and walked the halls with the hockey players.
“I think everyone just feels helpless in the situation,” said Karaki. The principal hopes the yearbook messages will comfort the families and help the students heal.
“I did sign both of them and left a little message,” Jost said.
Hunter, along with forward Conner Lukan, played for the St. Albert Midget AAA Raiders.
On Sunday, people who knew the boys or played hockey alongside them gathered at Akinsdale Arena in St. Albert to mourn and share memories.
Watch below: Calgarians wear jerseys to support those affected by Humboldt Broncos bus crash
In addition to donning jerseys to show their support, Edmontonians are being encouraged to donate sports equipment to Sports Central, a non-profit group that helps kids of all backgrounds get involved in sports.
“Another way to show your support is to donate a piece of equipment to Sports Central, the non-profit organization that enables kids without financial means to participate in sports,” a city spokesperson said.
“From April 12 to April 19, you can make your donation in the lobby of Edmonton Tower. Sports Central drop-off locations also include all City of Edmonton fire stations and police stations.”
Watch below: Global Edmonton sports anchor Kevin Karius played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. On Jersey Day, he wore a Melville Millionaires jersey and explains his former connection to the league and the Broncos.
The Edmonton Police Service will also accept donations, as are several other locations around the Edmonton area.
Where you can donate sporting equipment:
Sport Equipment Store Locations
United Cycle 10323 – 78 Avenue (780) 433-1181
All Sports Replay 13016 – 82 Street (780) 760-2121
Klondike Cycle 10041 170 Street NW (780) 484-3307
Proskate South 9212 – 51 Avenue (780) 438-9059
Proskate West 16972 111 Ave (780) 481-5532
Totem Outfitters 7430 – 99 Street (780) 432-1223
Community Police Stations
Downtown 9620 – 103A Avenue (780) 421-2200
Calder/Kensington 12540 – 132 Avenue (780) 496-8535
North Division 14203 – 50 Street (780) 426-8100 (No Bikes)
West Division 16505 – 100 Avenue (780) 426-8000
Southeast Division 104 Youville Drive (780) 426-8200
Southwest Division 1351 Windermere Way (780) 426-8300
Fire Rescue Services
Headquarters 10351 – 96 Street Rainbow Valley 4035 – 119 Street
Downtown 10217 – 107 Street Londonderry 7312 – 144 Avenue
University 11226 – 76 Avenue Coronet 5120 – 97 Street
Jasper Place 10949 – 156 Street Mill Woods 2904 – 66 Street
Norwood 9020 – 111 Avenue Castledowns 15505 Castle Downs Rd
Mill Creek 8105 – 96 Street Clareview 13808 Victoria Trail
Highlands 5025 118 Avenue Callingwood 6210 – 178 Street
West Yellowhead 12503 – 128 Street Terwillegar 131 Haddow Close
Roper 5604 – 50 Street Lake District 8403 – 167 Avenue
Lauderdale 12735 – 101 Street Meadows 2803 – 34 Street
Capilano 6110 – 98 Avenue Ellerslie 1203 Ellwood Rd SW
Meadowlark 9020 – 156 Street Heritage Valley 1211 – 26 Avenue SW
Kinsmen Twin Arenas 1979 – 111 Street (780) 434-9332
Grandin Firehall 18 Winston Churchill Ave (780) 418-6055
(St. Albert #1) or (780) 418-7021
Sin Bin Sports 2008A Sherwood Drive (780) 417-7462
County Clothes-Line 38 Sioux Road (780) 464-7786 (No Bikes)
River Cree Arenas Box 179 300 E Lapotac Blvd (780) 930-2681
Jiffy Lube 6607 Sparrow Drive (780) 980-0039
Watch below: Jersey Day is just one of the many ways Edmontonians are showing solidarity with those affected by the Humboldt Broncos crash. Kent Morrison reported live from Rogers Place, where a memorial is planned to honour the four Edmonton-area players who lost their lives.
Edmonton’s mayor proclaimed April 12, 2018 “Jersey Day.”
“This devastating event has united our country in sorrow at the loss of so much promise and potential,” Don Iveson said on Thursday.
“People from across Canada and around the world have found comfort in the perseverance and bravery of the surviving team members and the compassionate organ donations by victims which helped to save the lives of at least six people.
“Edmonton joins friends, family, and the community of Humboldt, Sask. in their grief by proudly wearing jerseys in solidarity.”
— With files from Global’s Kendra Slugoski