Tonight’s vigil in Castlegar to honour the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash was emotional to say the least. A crowd of roughly 600 came to pay their respects, many of them wore hockey jerseys to coincide with the “Jerseys for Humboldt” initiative. The event featured songs, speeches, a blessing from O’Chipawa Nation Saskatchewan Elder Bev Gillard and a performance from the COINs drummers with the Circle of Indigenous Nation Society and Friends.

Many of the speeches were presented by prominent figures in the local hockey community. Castlegar Rebels president Mike Johnstone says his team will honour the Broncos next season.

Nelson Leafs head coach Mario DiBella also spoke at the event. He conveyed a message of healing.

One of the more powerful speeches of the evening came from Selkirk Saints defender Ashton McLeod. He played for the Broncos in the 2015-16 season before coming to the Saints. He spoke to the important role hockey plays in the small Saskatchewan town of 6,000.

Local first responders who were on hand also received a long, standing ovation from the crowd before the ceremonies began.

The event was put together by Castlegar City Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff. She says $1,350 was raised in donations to help the victims involved in the tragedy. A go-fund-me campaign to help the team’s victims has raised $9.4 million dollars in less than a week.

Sixteen people have died as a result of Friday’s bus crash in Saskatchewan.