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'We will continue to believe': Humboldt marks one year since Broncos bus crash
The community of Humboldt was looking into the future while paying tribute to the past at a memorial marking one year since the fatal Broncos bus crash.
The service began with a moment of silence at 4:50 p.m. - the time of the crash one year ago.
The event was themed “Believe,” like the Broncos playoff run last year. The word carried on in the aftermath of the crash.
Mayor Rob Muench reflected on how Elgar Petersen Arena became a gathering point after the crash last year.
“We referred to a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “A year later, we’re starting to see that light.”
He spoke of how the team brought people together, especially when the players skated out onto the ice this year.
“The team played inspired hockey and it made it fun to come to the rink,” he said.
“Humboldt Strong is heart strong.”
Broncos president Jamie Brockman said the team is moving forward, but “will never forget.”
“We are so grateful to have been able to come here and watch our Humboldt Broncos play again,” he said.
The team has been a vital part of the community since it began in 1970.
There were 29 pillars at centre ice, all marked with a candle for the people on the bus that night. Candles were lit one by one by a communal flame, before that flame was carried out to candles held by people in the crowd.
Survivor Kaleb Dahlgren didn't come to the event, but shared a message with the crowd.
“It’s been a year since I last saw your beautiful faces,” the message said. “I just really hope you’re doing well and supporting each other.”
He said he knows there’s no way to bring everyone back.
“If there was a way to do it, I would.”
Carol Brons and Celeste Leray-Leicht spoke on behalf of the parents.
“This tragedy brought people together in important ways,” Brons said.
She spoke of positive changes she’s seen since the crash, like seatbelts on buses and truck driver training.
“We all have the power to create change,” she said.
Leray-Leicht spoke about how the families came together to look after each other.
“It is our job to look out for our youth and each other,” she said.
She also emphasized the importance of carrying on the legacy of the 29 people on the bus.
“Legacy means having hope,” she said.
Brons and Leray-Leicht asked the crowd - first calling on first responders who were on the scene that night, then those who transported the survivors and doctors and nurses who worked on them in the hospital.
Finally, they asked everyone who prayed and held vigil to stand. Everyone in the crowd was on their feet.
“We are a family, not by blood but by pain. We will continue to believe.”
CTV reporters are live in Humboldt for the memorial.