Thinking of Humboldt

Humboldt Broncos team picture. (Source : Twitter / @HumboldtBroncos)

Over nearly two decades in news, I’ve found myself interfacing with so much tragedy in what we cover.

Yet to the best of my recollection, I can’t remember crying.

And I was the kid who was easily affected by the emotions of others. A sensitive child, they’d say.

I’ve found myself clutching kleenex at weddings, graduations and other life milestones for family and friends.

The work… the news I find myself covering, curating or amplifying – it has not triggered tears. A lump in the throat for sure sometimes. But beyond that – nothing.

But, Humboldt.

Oh god.

Humboldt.

The past 24 hours have been incredibly difficult and I’m trying to figure out what’s different.

Make no mistake – I’m not on the ground. I’m not even on the desk. I’ve been helping out here and there where I can collecting some information and passing it along because stories this big are all-hands-on-deck regardless of your geography. With much of my career having been in Saskatchewan, I still have retained a sizeable base of Twitter followers there and am amplifying the storytelling of my colleagues who are based out of Saskatoon and Regina.

Yet, every so often I will find myself scrolling or watching or listening, and all of a sudden it happens. The quiver of the lower lip… a deep breath… moist eyes.

And I try to turn it off. But I can’t.

Maybe it’s because the cheeky grins of faces of those boys in that team photo (which has appeared everywhere from small-town newspapers to the front page of the BBC’s website) and how carefree they look. They don’t know what the future holds. Mercifully.

Maybe it’s because of the kids in my own life. I don’t have children, but I have two nephews who are the same age as most of the boys on that bus. I couldn’t…

Maybe it’s because I’ve covered playoff hockey, and know what those road trips are like. The excitement on the bus. The drive to go all the way. Victory is so close they can taste it.

Maybe it’s because I think of the parents. Playing junior hockey on the prairies often means not playing at home. You’ll go far and wide to get on a good team, a good shot at a scholarship, or maybe – although not often – a ticket to the show. That means your parents don’t get to all the games because you’re nowhere near home.

I couldn’t imagine being a parent, traveling a long way from Alberta or Manitoba, sitting in Nipawin, waiting for your boy’s team to show up for that night, and hearing…

Maybe… maybe… maybe…

Objectivity be damned, maybe it’s just because it’s all so bloody tragic. And I’m sure you probably feel the same way.

Overused cliche, but, if as an outsider I feel this way, I can’t imagine what these families and that community are going through.  Yet it is punching me in the gut as if I’m right there.

It’s all so incredibly sad.

Thoughts, love and prayers to the Humboldt Broncos and their families. They need it now more than ever.

New Adventures in a Familiar City

My bags were packed and the Calgary Tower was in my rear-view mirror in the spring of 2000.  I had just finished my broadcast journalism program at SAIT, and I was heading east to move back to Saskatchewan.  I always wanted to come back to Calgary at some point in my career – I just didn’t realize it would be nearly 17 years after it started.

Calgary has always been a familiar place for me.  I have extended family here.  As a kid, I spent those formative early years of my adolescence living in Airdrie.  I’ve visited often.  When you’re familiar with a place, you develop a level of literacy for its vibe and conventions.  Even so, time can change a place, and this city is no exception.

The boom of the early 2000s brought with it many new faces from not only across the country but from across the world.  Tastes have been refined.  There are new ideas and different ways of doing things. The Calgary I once knew, while still somewhat familiar in its layout, has a new texture to it which I’m eager to explore.

I’m approaching my return to the city as a new adventure – not only from a career perspective but also from a personal one.  I hope to share my experiences with you in a number of ways on a number of platforms – on this blog, on social media, and of course through my work.

Let the story begin.

No pressure.

We’re about a month away from a rather big event for our family.

My oldest nephew, Blair, graduates from high school at the end of May. In fact, he graduates from the same high school I went to, which gives me an added sense of pride (and sentimentality) about the whole matter.  18 years ago, I was walking across the stage to get my own diploma. Funny enough, my nephew was there that day – although he was still three months away from being born.

In the years which have passed, Blair has grown up (and up… and up… far taller than any of us in our family) in what seems like the blink of an eye. It’s unfair that time passes so quickly, but it’s selfish to wish it’d linger on. I’m filled with excitement to see where he’s going to go and what he’s going to achieve.

Inevitably, occasions like a high school graduation give way to unsolicited advice. I’ve come to think we offer graduates our “words of wisdom” because we look back on our own experiences, and want to help encourage the great moments in life while placing caution signs for the things we’d choose to do over again.

As a mentor of mine once said, advice is given with the proviso that responsibility for it ends with the person who receives it.  They can choose act on the advice, or put it on a shelf in their mind.  It’s their call.  Whatever my nephew does with the following, I offer it to him and to any of the other members in the class of 2016, with best wishes for the journey which lies before them.

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