The Humboldt Broncos Memorial Committee has officially launched its campaign leading toward the construction of both a legacy centre on the Humboldt Uniplex site and a permanent memorial on Highway 35 at Armley Road. The announcement came via a press conference held on the eve of the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.
The Committee is made up of delegates from the families impacted by the crash, City of Humboldt Representatives, and community volunteers. Their deliberations led them to the point of establishing a giving campaign to drive resources toward a multi-million dollar complex that would serve as a legacy and reflection centre in honour of the 2017-2018 Broncos.
City Manager Joe Day explained that the Committee, with the cooperation of the City, contracted DCG Philanthropic Services to support the outreach and ensure that the hosts of parties seeking to participate and give are allowed to do so.
The pre-produced video outlining the project featured the likes of Hayley Wickenhauser, Connor McDavid, Ron McLean among the hockey luminaries along with the Broncos’ family members. Present were Christina Haugan, wife of former coach Darcy Haugan, and their two boys Jackson and Carson.
As the anchor to the philosophy of the centre, designed to uplift and relay the inspiring stories of the team and the co-travellers on their journey, Coach Darcy Haugan’s covenant was clearly the inspiration. The credo was meant to guide the team in its on ice endeavours, but also guide young men into the wider world as thoughtful, caring community members and world citizens.
Deputy Mayor Rob Muench, former mayor of Humboldt at the time of the crash, spoke to the vision of the project.
“We feel so grateful that the Memorial Committee members recognized that although people from around the world will always associate Humboldt with the tragedy, there might be only one opportunity to create a lasting tribute - a tribute to stand as a symbol of all the inspirational stories that can be told because of that fateful day.”
Muench said that the Legacy Centre would stand as a tribute to the worldwide community that continues to demonstrate support and as a testament to hope and inspiration.
Bronco parents Kurt Leicht and Carol Brons spoke alongside current Humboldt Broncos President Lee Dufort. All three invoked Darcy Haugan’s Core Covenant and all three expressed their thanks for the ongoing outpouring of love and their hope that the new centre will instill others to follow that covenant.
Gregg Sauter, of DCG with the campaign team, interpreted the desire of various corporations and entities to provide their assistance to the vision.
“Of course it’s about Humboldt and celebrating the lives of those impacted, but it goes much further,” explained Sauter, reframing the words of an NHL team president. “It’s about every parent across Canada who’s spent countless hours in a cold rink with a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. It’s hit them hard, and so this is about Canadian communities and families and the game we love.”
The facility is intended for the north side of the Humboldt Uniplex. Preliminary drawings show an impressive facade, but the project is in its infancy. One of the key factors in the evolution of its development is the response to the capital campaign, acknowledged the committee. The first job is to activate campaign leadership from across the country, and indeed globally, said Don Gorsalitz of DCG. While no specific generation goal has been arrived at, the committee sees the potential of a facility in the $25 million range. At its earliest stages of development, the legacy centre and recreation facility will certainly house the reflection component to honour the 2017-2018 Broncos, but the vision includes an ice surface, high-performance athletics centre, physical therapy facilities, and community recreational facilities. In a scenario where the campaign response allowed, the ice surface could serve as a new home for the Broncos. Similarly, the project could be diminished if circumstances dictated.
What was clear in the vision is that the centre is an invitation to those from Humboldt and area and from across the country and around the world to share in the legacy of the team in an environment designed to uplift and inspire. It will also serve in the ongoing healing process of the families and a wide community left reeling three years ago in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy.
“As we move forward, a permanent tribute to those affected by the crash is going to help our community one step further down the road,” affirmed Deputy Mayor Muench. "It’s been tough on a lot of people over the last three years. Anything that can be positive and good out of this, I think this centre is going to be that.”
Written by Maury Wrubleski