Nipawin's "Hug Day" raises $5,000 for special bursary

By Nigel Maxwell
May 13, 2018 - 12:00pm Updated: May 13, 2018 - 2:26pm

Upwards of 500 people showed up at Nipawin's Central Park Saturday to say thank-you.

A barbecue was organized to give the community a way to say thank you to the first responders who responded to the April 6 bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Emergency responders from Carrot River, Zenon Park, Tisdale, Melfort and Nipawin were all invited to attend.

Barry Thompson, an Intermediate Care Paramedic with Northeast EMS, said he was very impressed with the way the communities came together to support one another.

"It's always good to see a smiling face after something like this and that will be a good memory to kind of put between the event and today," he said.

A total of 16 people were killed and 13 were injured when the team’s charter bus collided with a semi-trailer north of Tisdale. Nipawin Fire Chief Bryan Starkell said there really was a team effort involved in the response, and all the agencies worked well together. Starkell confessed to northeastNOW his team was not used to hearing thank you.

"We don't hear thank you too often but this last month we have … all over everywhere, it’s been tremendous," he said.

Several members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Gainer the Gopher, Eddie Steele and Zac Evans, showed up to show their support to the communities. Steele told the crowd he had the opportunity in February to watch a Humboldt Broncos game and met the team after. He said he felt compelled to be at the event Saturday to also say thank you to the first responders.

Several dignitaries were invited to speak at the event including Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback, Melfort MLA Todd Goudy, Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw, Nipawin Mayor Rennie Harper and Humboldt Mayor Ron Muench.

“It takes something unimaginable to realize how blessed we are,” Harper said in her address. 

Harper has also been working behind the scenes with other community leaders to help create a special bursary for future first responders.

"These little kids that are here may one day want to be firefighters or EMT's and this will give them someplace where they might be able to access funding to go to school," she said.

Although the event Saturday was not intended as a fundraiser, close to $5,000 was donated which will be put towards the bursary to be handled by the Bank of Montreal.


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