Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I was absolutely heartbroken by the news of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. Although I did not personally know any of the players or coaches, like many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, I, too, have spent countless hours on the bus, first as a player and then as a coach. It is what we have to do in rural communities when we choose to play sports or participate in events.
At the beginning of a season when parents bring their children to the rink to join our team, they are placing their trust in us as coaches and as an organization to protect their children. Their children become our children. They become our family. Just as we would with our own children, we agonize over every detail to ensure the safety of their children on and off the ice.
My heart has been filled with incredible sadness since first hearing this news. The scenario has been played out in our minds over and over again. This indeed is among our worst nightmares.
Since the news of the accident broke, former players, coaches, and volunteers have all reached out to me. Their reaction is the same. We are all numb.
I can imagine what was going on just before the accident: an iconic sports movie playing on the video, a poker game in the back, coaches sitting quietly thinking about the previous game and the night's lineup, and the quiet conversations of hopes and dreams.
As a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain the families are experiencing. The community of Humboldt, the surviving players, and the families of the deceased will need our nation's prayers, strength, and support for a very long time. Long after the cameras and the media go away, these communities and these families will need us all as a nation to continue to lift them up. This pain will endure long after the ice from this season has melted. Hearts will continue to break long after the final buzzer goes off.
On behalf of all families in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George and our proud hockey teams, the BC Major Midget League, Cariboo Cougars, the WHL Prince George Cougars, the British Columbia junior hockey league, and the Prince George Spruce Kings, our thoughts and prayers are with those we have lost, those who are still fighting, the community of Humboldt, and the Humboldt Broncos organization.
We ask that we all take a moment to say a prayer for the families involved as well as for the first responders involved in this unbelievable tragedy. This will undoubtedly have an immeasurable impact on them as well. We ask that beyond today we continue as a nation to embrace and lift these families up and hold them in our hearts.