HUMBOLDT, Sask. — A memorial service being held today to mark one year since the Humboldt Broncos tragedy will include a moment of silence at 4:50 p.m. — the exact time of the deadly crash.
Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured after the Saskatchewan hockey team's bus collided with a semi driven by a novice trucker who had blown the stop sign at a rural intersection.
The crash struck a chord with hockey-loving Canadians and moved people around the world to put hockey sticks on their front porches in solidarity with the Humboldt community.
More than $15 million was donated for the victims' families.
The service led by the team's pastor is being held at the Humboldt arena, where rows of yellow banners hang above the main entrance with the names of all 29 people who were on the bus that day.
Premier Scott Moe said he would attend the memorial service with his wife, and a spokeswoman from the Prime Minister's Office said a video message would be played from Justin Trudeau.
"I have two children and, like any parent, I just can't imagine what these parents are going through, go through, each and every day," Moe said in an interview Friday.
In a statement Saturday, Trudeau thanked first responders for their "courage and professionalism" in the immediate aftermath of the crash, while praising the Humboldt community for its resilience in the face of tragedy.
"When we think of Humboldt, we cannot forget pictures of the wreckage — but what will stay in our hearts forever are images of compassion and strength: players clasping hands, united, in the hospital ward; young men learning to stand, walk, and take to the ice again; hockey sticks leaned up against thousands of Canadian front doors," the prime minister said.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Saturday also noted the strength of the Humboldt community and the outpouring of support from across the country, while expressing his own difficulty making sense of the loss.
"As a parent and a Saskatchewanian, I still find myself without adequate words to capture how this tragedy has been felt by our province, and our nation," Scheer, who represents a Regina riding in the House of Commons, said in a statement.
"A year may have dulled the sharpness of the pain, but no passage of time can change the depth of our sorrow."
Organizers are expecting about 3,000 people at the arena and are also preparing for many to visit the crash site at the crossing of Highways 35 and 335.
The Broncos were heading to a playoff game when the collision happened. Handmade crosses and a large collection of mementoes have been left at the intersection and there are plans for a permanent memorial there.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary was sentenced last month to eight years for dangerous driving causing death and bodily injury. Court heard he was an inexperienced driver travelling for the first time in the area.
The three prairie provinces have since made training mandatory for commercial truck drivers and an entry-level national training standard is to be in place next year.
Trudeau also noted in his statement that the federal government plans to make it mandatory, as of September 2020, for all new medium and large highway buses to have seatbelts for passengers.
The Canadian Press