It has been nearly one year since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13 others.
Former Edmonton Oiler Chris Joseph lost his son Jaxon in the April 6, 2018 collision. The Joseph family’s pain has been very public and they shared their loss with many other families.
“Our 29 Bronco families are incredible and we’ve grown to love them all very much,” Joseph said.
He said the families lean on each other, and even if they do not always agree, there is always respect in the journey to heal and the crusade to make changes.
For Joseph, that fight is to mandate national standards on truck drivers.
“It was a bad driver working for a bad company, so there was a lot of things that went wrong and you think, ‘How does anybody miss a stop sign?'”
Semi-driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison last month for his involvement in the crash. In her decision, provincial court judge Inez Cardinal said she found it “baffling and incomprehensible” that Sidhu could miss several markers before driving through a stop sign and colliding with the hockey team’s vehicle.
“His inattention displays risky behaviour, given he saw the signs but they did not register, because he continued to focus on the trailers behind him,” she said.
Transport Canada has mandated highway buses built after Aug. 31, 2020 have seat belts, but Joseph wants that to happen now.
“It’s too slow. We want to see it happen now. Who’s going to wear them? Our boys had seat belts. They weren’t wearing them.
“What happens to that bus that comes in 2019 and doesn’t have seat belts? It’s in service for 20 years.”
WATCH BELOW: Petition for more road safety, commercial trucking rules after Humboldt bus tragedy
Joseph has helped push a petition to the House of Commons with suggestions for Canada-wide mandatory graduated entry-level training legislation for Class 1 drivers. The petition — started by Pattie Fair, whose husband died in a collision involving a semi truck — calls for a graduated licensing system that would take into account both size and complexity of vehicles as well as weather and road conditions.
“We want to see good drivers get rewarded, get paid well, get treated well, get trained well,” he said.
“We want to see the bad companies and the bad drivers either shape up or ship out.”
Now approaching one year without his son Jaxon, Joseph seeks joy and appreciates moments with his children because he understands life can change in an instant.
“The hole is always there for me… People have said over time it gets smaller. It doesn’t get smaller for me,” Joseph said.
“I feel like I’m just building up some strength around it and that hole will always be the same size for the rest of my life.”
Families will gather in Humboldt on Saturday for a vigil to commemorate one year since the crash.