Your Condolences for Saskatchewan at its Time of Tragedy: The Canada Letter

Over the course of this week, several of you took the time to share your condolences for the families with me by email or on the comments section of one of my stories.

Here are some of your thoughts and wishes. (Some have been edited and condensed):


Kevin Garinger, president of the Humboldt Broncos, at the team’s arena.Credit Ian Austen/The New York Times

Those of us from afar can never truly know the devastation experienced in this close-knit community and can only imagine the intense grief felt by relatives, friends and neighbors of the many victims. Although we cannot be there to show our support, we are horrified by the tragedy and mourn the loss you suffer. We also admire your spirit, your compassion and your resolve.

Your Condolences for Saskatchewan at its Time of Tragedy: The Canada Letter
Your Condolences for Saskatchewan at its Time of Tragedy: The Canada Letter

Please do not step back from the good this team does. Do not let this loss hollow out your community. Keep moving forward and celebrate the good in your community.

—Edinburgh, Toronto

Some things in this life are just far too difficult to bear alone, and grief for one’s own dead children is surely one of those things. So let us do whatever we can to let the heartbroken parents, families, friends and community where tragedies such as this unfold know that they are not alone.

—Peter S., Western Canada

All weekend since I read about the Broncos I’ve been listening to my two favorite men from Canada, men I love, men that soothe this aching world for me the most. Glenn Gould and Leonard Cohen. For the parents, life will never be the same. For the rest of us, it helps. Maybe.

—C.T., Austria

Trying out for this team was the highlight of my California-born and raised son’s hockey career. He didn’t make it, but seeing how the arena could fit the entire prairie town’s population was a great experience for him.

We are all part of each other, particularly when a niche sport is involved where kids from all over the world compete to have the opportunity to be on these teams. Coach Darcy recruited my son in Las Vegas to go to Humboldt. It’s pretty jarring to know that the person who was picked instead of you to be a defenseman is now dead or injured.

—Joan, Santa Barbara, Calf.

Jerome Jackson, a reader in Oxon Hill, Maryland who said he is part of “a big hockey family” emailed a moving poem about Humboldt’s sorrow:

The winds across the grain

Of Saskatchewan

Flow swiftly forever on.

No one can be numb

To the dying of the young.

Their dreams and hopes

Carry young and old, beyond.

Canadian clippers

Swiftly skating over Humboldt

Whisper hearts of bucking Broncs.


A grain elevator along the route taken by the Broncos.Credit Ian Austen/The New York Times

Read: A Town That Lives for Hockey Is Devastated by Humboldt Broncos’ Deaths

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Read: A Fateful Crossroads: What Caused the Crash That Killed 16 Canadians?

Read: Canadian Town Reels After Bus Crash Kills Beloved Hockey Players

Read: Coroner’s Error in Canada Bus Crash Brings Hope to One Family, Despair to Another

Keeping Tabs

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg met with Congress this week and didn’t exactly conquer Washington. At the same time, several American lawmakers didn’t display a keen grasp of the social media world.

As Facebook tries to find a way out of the crisis of confidence in the company’s use of data created by a Canadian whistle-blower’s revelations, we’re learning more about exactly what happens under the hood. Natasha Singer has written a revealing article on how Facebook gathers information not only on its users but also on virtually everyone on the web.

Like me, Brian X. Chen, who writes about consumer technology, doesn’t do very much with his Facebook account, making both of us “lurkers” to some people. But when Brian downloaded his Facebook data he found that hadn’t stopped the social media service from compiling a large dossier on him.

“Be warned: Once you see the vast amount of data that has been collected about you, you won’t be able to unsee it,” Brian wrote.

Read: I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.

Read: What You Don’t Know About How Facebook Uses Your Data

Read: Facebook Is Complicated. That Shouldn’t Stop Lawmakers.

Read and Watch: 2 Days, 10 Hours, 600 Questions: What Happened When Mark Zuckerberg Went to Washington

Coming to Town

Times reporters will be making appearances in Canada over the next few weeks.

First up will be Melena Ryzik, a reporter with The Times’s Culture department. On April 24 she’ll be at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for a discussion with Josh Basseches, the museum’s director and chief executive and Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival, about how their two institutions sell history to 21st-century audiences. That’s not all. The event includes a reception, gallery tour and dramatic presentations by actors from the Stratford Festival.

All the details are here. Times subscribers, by the way, are eligible for the same discounted ticket price offered to museum members.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, as I’ve mentioned previously, is the only Canadian city on The Times’s list of 52 places to visit this year. Jada Yuan has taken on the monumental task of traveling to all of them for The Times. And on May 1, I’ll be moderating a conversation with her at the impressive Remai Modern art museum in Saskatoon. Full details will appear in next week’s Canada Letter.

And Emily Steel, who exposed the sexual misconduct cases involving the former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, and the old-school sexual harassment at new age Vice Media, will return to Canada for two events organized by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. On April 24 she’ll be in Toronto (details and tickets here). And the following evening she’ll make her way to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (details and tickets here). I plan to attend the Ottawa event and hope to meet some of you there.

Centre Ice

With the melancholy of Humboldt hanging over the sport, the National Hockey League is now into its playoffs. Andrew Knoll previews the series in which the Pittsburgh Penguins will attempt to become the first team since 1983 to win three consecutive Stanley Cups.

Trans Canada

—A decade ago, Hérouxville, Quebec, became synonymous with intolerance after producing a behavior guide for immigrants, of which it had none. Dan Bilefsky returned recently to see if attitudes have changed.

—Fourteen prominent researchers have published a paper denouncing an adjunct professor of anthropology in Victoria, British Columbia for repeatedly suggesting that climate change is not a danger to polar bears.

—The Times’s 36 Hours travel feature stops in Victoria. Among its recommendations is a place I always visit when there: Munro’s Books, which is in a grand former banking hall.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 15 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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