I stopped reading and sat in silence, staring out the window at the Saskatchewan River.
I didn’t know.
Not until my client partner from Federated Co-Op sent me a note about a slight adjustment to the conference agenda for the following morning. After a brief welcome, they were going to address the Humboldt Broncos tragedy and observe a moment of silence for all those affected.
I was alone in my hotel room in Saskatoon. I searched online.
Ten players with the Humboldt team and five others, including two coaches, were killed after the bus carrying them collided with a tractor-trailer late Friday in the Saskatchewan province. At least 13 others were injured.
There are no words.
Except that words are what I do. Ninety minutes of words the next morning, to be exact. I spent the rest of my night considering my words very carefully. I wanted them to count.
I could share what I know.
More importantly, perhaps, I could share what I learned since arriving in Saskatoon.
That what I was witnessing deeply reinforced the grace and impact of a simple gesture meant to lend support. That community and connection make a difference. That a company that says people matter inserts itself when it counts. That we are all connected to something larger than ourselves.
As a community vigil in the Broncos’ Edgar Petersen Arena was taking place, The Sports Network broadcaster Brian Munz urged his followers to leave their hockey sticks out on porches and at front and back doors, taking inspiration from a high-school friend who had done the same.
Got this text from a friend who I went to high school with in Humboldt.
— Brian Munz (@BrianMunzTSN) April 9, 2018
A tweet turned into a movement, with hundreds of people from both Canada and the United States showing support by posting photos and video of their tributes using the hashtags #putyoursticksout and #humboldtstrong.
I am really struggling with the tragedy of the Humboldt Bronco crash. I don’t understand why it has hit me as hard as it has. I don’t know why 15 people that I have never met, and who have passed away have brought me so much sorrow, but I am sad. So. Very. Sad. So tonight, we found 15 sticks and put our sticks out to show, just for a moment, that these people who loved hockey as much as my family does are in our hearts. I can only hope that the families of those who have died, and those healing in hospital can feel the rest of the country holding them up in prayer. 💚💛 #prayersforhumboldt #humboldtstrong #15sticks #putyoursticksout #broncosstrong
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A public fundraising campaign for the Humboldt Broncos has passed $4.7 million in its first two days. You can access the GoFundMe page here.
Federated Co-operatives Limited CEO Scott Banda immediately announced the Co-operative Retailing System’s $300,000+ gift to establish the SJHL’s Assistance Program to support players, families, billets and communities following the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.
Thank you, Federated, for inviting me to Saskatoon to spend the morning with you. I understand your source of pride and it was an incredible privilege to serve as your partner and keynote speaker this week. You really did provide a powerful reminder that leadership isn’t about us. It’s about humility, sacrifice, service and helping others.
Especially when it counts.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.