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EDITORIAL: Remember the Broncos

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In the midst of these strange, interesting times, many of us spent time Monday reflecting on the second anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Two years. For many of us, it still feels like yesterday, so deeply did that tragedy affect us. This year, the physical gatherings to remember the 16 lives lost and 13 people who suffered injuries in the April 6, 2018, bus crash were replaced mostly with online memorials. Nearly 1,000 people signed the online guestbook on the City of Humboldt, Sask., website's memorial page, which was full of videos and Broncos photos.

The memorial was no less poignant for being delivered online. Although painful, reminders of tragedies that have changed Canadians are important ones to bear witness to, because remembering the tragedy forces us to remember the lessons we have learned since then. That's something we know from Remembrance Day, a day where we reflect on the brutal cost of war, and all other tragic anniversaries we mark.

Our memories of the four Humboldt Broncos players who had St. Albert ties are full of sorrow but also reverence at the recollection of how our country and community responded in the face of the unthinkable. The 2018 crash tore through many families, but our nation came together in the aftermath to support one another. That's a lesson truly worth remembering as we wait in isolation and worry about what might happen when this pandemic ends: even after a tragedy of this magnitude, Canadians chose to rally around the families left behind instead of allowing our pain to divide us, and we came out the other side stronger as a country.

The same goes for the fear and helplessness many of us are experiencing right now, whether we have sick loved ones we can't comfort in person, children we're trying to teach or work to do from home. Just as there is a before and after April 6, 2018, there is a before and after COVID-19. These are events that can and have changed our society.

For the families of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Hunter, Stephen Wack and Conner Lukan, we hope the absence of physical support from the many St. Albertans who care was offset at least in part by the online support families may have received. Grieving can be a lonely process and, as Chris Joseph told the Gazette this week, is made more difficult by the social distancing required by COVID-19. Our hearts and our thoughts are with all of them during this time.

For those of us struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, let's remember the Broncos and the lessons they taught us – chiefly that we have gotten through crises, tragedies and disasters together before and we will again, with a little bit more kindness, thoughtfulness and love.