A tribute concert was held at the Sasktel Center in Saskatoon on April 27th to support the Humboldt Strong campaign after the bus crash that claimed the lives of players and personel of the Humboldt Broncos who compete in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. One of our made in Saskatchewan artist's performed at the event, and that was the Hunter Brothers from Shaunavon Saskatchewan made up of brothers Luke, J.J Ty, Brock,and Dusty Hunter. We had a chance talk to them about the even and how it wen't over a a whole we spoke to J.J Hunter about that night on April 27 in Saskatoon.
"It was a tough evening, It was a great event the attendance was fantastic, the people of Saskatchewan and beyond came out to support the Humboldt Broncos and the organization, the NHL players that were there, the dignitaries that were there, the country music artists that were there were all treated with a great amount of respect and class and the evening was fantastic. At the same time it’s hard to ignore the fact that we have families in the rows at the front of families who have lost sons, daughters, husbands, and it was a tough concert on that end, but in terms of how it went it was a great evening but was tough because of the dark reality of what those families are going through”
The event raised money for the 29 families that had there world change in a blink of an eye. The event was also intended to take people's minds off the tragedy and enjoy a night filled with music and great entertainment.
“The funds raised is great and we were thankful and happy we could be apart of it, and the organizers right from the beginning wanted to make sure that the funds were allocated right to the families. I think more than that even was the fact that these families have gone through a tremendous amount of heartache with the tragedy and funerals and a lot of tough tough days, but one thing we wanted to provide was some light and some smiles and singing and music have been able to do that, even so much for a few minutes or hours we were able to bring some joy and happiness which I think was kind of the hope in the whole event, and the other thing that I think was part of the whole evening was so that we could visibly show support, we have seen it through the gofundme and the funerals and the number of people that come out but other than that an event such as this to see that many thousands of people come out and that many representatives of the NHL teams and people from across Canada come out to support was really an out pouring of we care about you and support you love you and are hurting along with you.”
The event raised $428,000 from 9,967 which averages about $50 per person in a building that people came together to celebrate music and have an evening of entertainment and fun.
“The atmosphere was up beat for the most part, the performers performed their hearts out and we tried to do the best to do the same the people and the response was fantastic there was singing and clapping people dancing and standing and it was a fantastic atmosphere, along with that there was some tears shed to for us in our set looking down to those front rows to see the people that were directly affected by the tragedy it is tough, so there was definitely some tearful moments as well as there was times where the reality of what they had lost really hit home, so there was a little bit of everything in the evening, but I would say in large the atmosphere was absolutely amazing."
The crash hit a little bit closer to home for the Hunter Brothers, as most of them were successful hockey players.
"Without question immediately what comes to mind is wow that could have been us all 5 of us boys played hockey and 2 of us played in the SJHL Dusty and Brock so we spent many of years travelling those roads and Luke played for Swift Current for 5 years and those players that were lost in the Swift Current Broncos crash are remembered with moments of silence and the crest worn on the jerseys and it is always apart of what that organizations history is and for us being hockey players and knowing that you could even visualize and hearing stories of the guys at what they were doing at that moment during the crash makes sense because we did it a thousand times on bus trips as you get closer to destination and start preparing to get off the bus and get ready for the game all those things run through your mind, and there are so many more connections from Saskatchewan with the atmosphere and the small town connection and the community hurts there was just so many connections that we were honoured to be apart of it and going forward if there is anyway you can support and be of help in any way we want to continue to do that because it does it so close to home."
When something to this magnitude happens in a city or province of country you never think it can happen until the unthinkable becomes the reality.
"There is so many questions that go through a persons mind, you know if we didn’t do that or if we could have done that or this flight delayed you don’t know how many times bus crashes have been avoided, you just don’t know, there are so many questions to be asked and that is really tough because it could have been any other bus and any other time Luke recalls the memory of when their bus started to go sideways on the highway and it was in the middle of winter time and had anything gone wrong that could have been his bus at any given point so it is a very tough thing to deal with those questions that do come up but at this point the best we can do is to try and support and love those that are hurt the best we can."
The Hunter Brothers have a strong hockey background and a common thing you hear whenever something happens is that the hockey world is a small tight knit group an example of this is how the city of Las Vegas and the NHL teams showed support for the shooting that took place on October 1st of 2017 and the city took comfort in supporting the new franchise in town the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
J.J spoke on the support of the hockey world " I was able to play in the American league for a number of years so there were a number of teammates I played with in junior, Josh Gorges, Travis Moen out in Kelowna, and Jarret Stoll played with in the Edmonton Oilers organization in the American league and I knew Shane Doan a litle bit the hockey world is a small world so it was neat to draw those connections as we have been out of the hockey world for awhile I know my brothers had connections with some of the guys as well and then from the music perspective it’s just like hockey in it is a small community, it is a close knit family and does not take very long for all those connections to start coming out and we have some great friends in the country music industry and people that we really appreciate and respect and it is really special to see the out pouring love and support from the NHL community and the country music world and I think that is a testimate to that and of course it is not just a limit of the hockey and music word, it ventures way farther than that but those are the 2 that we are apart of or have been apart of so really incredible to see the out pouring of support."
Each musical act was given a certain amount of stage time during the concert, the Hunter Brothers got the opportunity to sing the national anthem before the concert and when it was their stage they sung there new single Those Were The Nights.
The singers from Shaunavon shared the stage with a handful of other well established country atrists such as Dallas Smith from the Township of Langley in B.C, Brett Kissel from Flake Lake AB, Gord Bamford from Lacombe AB, Chad Brownlee from Kelowna B.C, and finally from Langenburg Saskatchewan Jess Moskaluke.