Faithfully yours - We can do better - but will we?


By Neil Strohschein

Neepawa Banner & Press

In many ways, the events of the last three weeks have been nothing short of miraculous.Never in my lifetime have I seen such an outpouring of support as has come in the wake of the accident that took the lives of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Over $10 million has been raised to help the victims’ families and the team. Expressions of sympathy and offers of assistance have come from all parts of the country.

Prayers were offered in churches of all faith traditions—and those prayers will continue to be offered for many weeks to come.Then there were the tributes offered at hockey games, the thousands of dollars raised as teams donated the proceeds of 50/50 draws to the Humboldt fund, the green lapel ribbons, the banners and signs that expressed support and the community fundraisers that have been held—all for a junior hockey team in a small town that, until this tragedy, many in Canada knew nothing about.

This isn’t the first time a tragedy of this magnitude has hit a small town in Canada. But this one was different. It touched every Canadian family in every segment of our society. As Edmonton Oiler’s Head Coach Todd McLellan, himself a native of Melville, Saskatchewan put it: “Every player and coach in the NHL did his time in the junior ranks, riding a bus from one town to another, often in road conditions that were less than ideal. We understand what those most directly affected by this tragedy are going through.” So, I would argue, does every hockey family in Canada. And we all have our unique reasons for the heartache and heartbreak we have felt as we watched the events in Humboldt unfold.

But there is a deeper lesson in these events that I hope we will not ignore.

This outpouring of sympathy and support was lead by ordinary Canadians. They organized local events, raised funds, hung banners, decorated and displayed hockey sticks bearing the hashtag #HumboldtProud and did whatever else they could to show their support for the victims of this tragedy and their families. Community organizations responded immediately. So did professional sports teams and larger companies. Leaders of provincial and federal governments sent messages of condolence—but there was little more than they could do to supplement what had already been done. Ordinary people took the initiative. Ordinary people made this miracle happen.

In doing so, they unknowingly have sent a message to all Canadians and to the rest of the world. “If this is what a few of us can do on short notice to unite a nation in support of one cause,” they are telling us, “think of all the good we could accomplish if we got together and worked together to solve some of the bigger issues that are facing our country!” There is wisdom in those words.

Ordinary people, taking initiative and working together in their local communities can do much to help solve the social, economic, moral and political problems we face. We can do something to address poverty, racism and prejudice where and when we see it. We can build bridges of tolerance and understanding with others. Our actions might not change the world, but they can (and with God’s help they will) change our communities.

If the Humboldt tragedy has taught us anything, it has taught us that much can be achieved when people come together to address a problem. It has taught us that we can do better—but will we?