The grief that has descended on the community of Humboldt, Sask. is a tragically familiar feeling for the people of Bathurst, N.B. Ten years ago, they too went into mourning when seven members of the boys’ high school basketball team and the coach's wife were killed in a hauntingly similar highway crash.
Chris Quinn’s heart goes out to those in Humboldt mourning their loved ones. Quinn’s son Nickolas was one of the eight killed when a van carrying the Bathurst High School basketball team slid into the path of a transport truck on a slushy night in January, 2008.
When Quinn heard about Friday’s crash in Saskatchewan, he says decade-old memories came flooding back.
“I don't really like to think about those days, to be honest,” he told CTV Atlantic.
Quinn believes everyone affected by this latest tragedy will have to walk through grief in their own way.
“You've got to do it; you've got to be where you are,” he said. “I mean you can't change it, you can't move faster, you can't move slower; you're going to move at your own pace. Where I was doesn't mean where you are; everybody's going to be different.”
Support for those who lost loved ones in the Saskatchewan crash has come in from around the world, just like it did in the weeks following the Bathurst tragedy. Already, close to $7 million has been raised for the Humboldt families online, flags are a half-mast around the country, and dozens of Canadians are leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to show they are thinking of Humboldt.
Quinn says that those are not just gestures; that kind of support from strangers was invaluable to him and helped him deal with the loss of his son.
“It just made it easier, really. I mean you're not alone. You know other people are there and even though they may not understand what you're going through, they know; they want to help you through it,” he said.
At Bathurst High School, students have been wearing green ribbons in a show of support for those mourning in Saskatchewan.
“We're trying to let everyone know that we support them 100 per cent, letting them know they're not alone in that there are lots of people they can reach out to,” says Bathurst student council president Reilly Riordon.
Bathurst High Principal Shaun MacDonald reached out to his counterpart in Humboldt this week, to say he understood the emotions flowing through the community.
“I offered my support just like people offered to me when we went through the same tragedy,” he said.
Stephen Brunet was mayor of Bathurst 10 years ago when the tragedy occurred. He says the next few weeks will be hard, but life will and must continue.
“You can't live right here in our little community. You have to go out and expand so you can learn. Right now as we speak, I'm sure there are buses on the road somewhere. But you can't stop living. You’ve got to carry on.”
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis