In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Humboldt, Sask. my thoughts, along with those of so many across the nation and around the world, turned to the grieving families and friends, and to those who survived the horrific crash.
I thought about those who had to respond – the police, paramedics, firefighters, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, social workers, grief counsellors.
But my thoughts also turned to the storytellers. There’s a kinship when you know that your fellow journalists are also going to be called on to hear stories they’d rather not hear and write stories they’d rather not write.
The reality is people want information about a situation such as this. When reporting the news, there is a fine line to walk between taste and hard truth, between informed comment and rumour, between the comfort level of various people for privacy. And in this age of the 24/7 news cycle, these decisions need to be made on the fly, often as information – both true and false – is flooding in.
I thought of my friend and former editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Heather Persson. She is now the managing editor of the two largest newspapers in Saskatchewan – the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and the Regina Leader-Post.
She shared a photo with me of her husband driving her car around the region, as she typed away on her keyboard, collecting stories and writing her thoughts. In such a situation, it is all hands on deck. And Persson is not a hands-off boss.
Then I read her offering to the community and her words struck a chord with me. I quote her below.
“One could say the pain of the survivors, the families and friends is unimaginable, but many were doing just that — imagining themselves trying to deal with such a horrific event.
And putting ourselves in their shoes is not a stretch.
So many Saskatchewan kids spend countless hours on a bus headed to hockey games. So many moms and dads put them on the road and say a quiet prayer that they will stay safe while out of their care. So many know the pleasure and sense of community found at a Junior A hockey game.”
And it is not just Saskatchewan kids spending hours on those busses.
It is Salmon Arm’s kids, Sicamous’ kids, Ottawa’s kids, Alberta’s kids — Canada’s kids.
As the nation’s parents heard the news, I feel confident in predicting that there were very few who didn’t feel a chill down their spine, or thought, ‘it could have been my kid.’
And so we pull together, and we show our compassion and sympathy for those this has touched directly. As we read their stories and see their photos, we take a moment out of our own stuff to pause and reflect on the fragility of life.
And we will put those hockey sticks on our porches or doorsteps, as I will tonight. And we will wear a jersey on Thursday to honour and remember.
Persson wrote something else that resonated with me.
”It is little comfort right now, but nobody will have to walk this painful road alone.”