Sisterhood of the Travelling Jackets

(Left to Right) Erika Power, Erika Burns, Jessica Houston, Quinn Courtney, McKailyn Ives, Aaron Loecher, Hailey Mandersheid, Cassidy Gebhard, Rae Ann Thibault, Erykah Pool, Kayleigh Feschuk, Amy Olynick, Lauren Campbell, Payton Mckechnie (missing Sydney Svicenec)

(Left to Right) Erika Power, Erika Burns, Jessica Houston, Quinn Courtney, McKailyn Ives, Aaron Loecher, Hailey Mandersheid, Cassidy Gebhard, Rae Ann Thibault, Erykah Pool, Kayleigh Feschuk, Amy Olynick, Lauren Campbell, Payton Mckechnie (missing Sydney Svicenec)

When I lost my boyfriend in the Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash, I gained a sisterhood. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for them. I felt so lost after the crash and didn’t really have anyone I could talk to, that truly understood how I felt. Within a week, Amy (girlfriend of Logan Schatz) and Aaron (girlfriend of Nick Shumlanski) worked together to reach out to me and the others to start a group chat for all of the girlfriends of the Broncos who had been involved in the bus crash. Although I didn’t know most of them, it was the first place I felt safe talking about what happened and everything surrounding it such as the funeral, getting the news, visiting Humboldt, and the surviving members of the crash.

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For someone who doesn’t have that many girlfriends, I was honestly nervous and scared of what they would think of me and if this would turn into something from Mean Girls, luckily I pleasantly surprised. A week and a half after the bus crash I drove to Saskatoon to visit the surviving players in the hospital to see how they were holding up and to bring them programs from Logan’s service. I texted the group chat that I was in town and all of the girls in the area decided to take me for dinner and everyone could finally meet in person. Everything was still pretty fresh and everyone seemed to be in shock. As you looked around the table you could see the pain in everyone’s faces. We ordered food and drinks and went around the table to introduce ourselves and how we found out about the accident. We probably looked like a hot mess, red- blotchy faces and tear stained cheeks but it was the first time I had spoken about it and it felt good.

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That first visit led to a girlfriend’s weekend, hosted by Quinn (girlfriend of Jaxon Joseph) and we came together to share in our experiences. This is when I felt like I had really gained 14 new besties. It was like our own little sorority. We made jean jackets to commemorate our boyfriends and to stand as a group. It has been challenging for us for find our way through this grief process and I really don’t know where I would be without my sisters.

 

The pictures that you’ll see are from our weekend, an amazing billet mom took our photos and while it looks like we are happy to be there, it was most of first time’s back at the rink since the crash. There wasn’t a dry eye in the rink. Myself and many of the girl’s had last been at Elgar Peterson Arena for the Bronco’s last game, vigil, or funeral service. As difficult as it was, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that with anyone else. I can cry and laugh at anything and there is nothing but warmth and strength from all of the girls.

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Some people think it’s odd that we didn’t know everyone before the crash and some of us were shocked that some of the boys even had a girlfriend! Most of us live out of town and come from different provinces so when we went to visit we spent all of our time with our boys. We also differ in ages from 16-24 and we all have different interests so it’s crazy that we are all able to get along so well. But when you meet someone who truly understands what it’s like to go through a tragedy like this, they become really important people in your life. I’m proud to say that they are my family.

 

As time has gone on, we’ve really connected with individuals and not just as a group so we kind of all have a go to person but no matter what we are all here to listen and support one another. Not everyone is in the same situation, of the 15 of us, 8 of us lost our partners forever and the rest have boyfriend’s who are still dealing with really serious injuries sustained by the crash including mental trauma. But I truly think this experience has humbled us all and almost lifted a screen from our eyes, we all appreciate the relationships we have and have had a lot more now. These young men have been such a special part of all of our lives and helped shaped us as young women, Logan has definitely shown me what I deserve in a partner and a relationship. He and the others have set the bar for any future relationship any of us may have in the future.

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Unfortunately, not all of the girl’s have maintained their relationships with the surviving members of the crash but they are still apart of our family because they were at the time of the crash and can still identify with those feelings associated with it. I think it’s important for me to empathize with them because I don’t know if my relationship with Logan would have changed or not, I will never know and they still support me. Day or night, someone will always pick up my call or text and cry or laugh with me. We talk every single day and without them all constantly lifting me up emotionally and sometimes physically, I think I would be in a lot worse shape.

 

It’s hard as a girlfriend or even boyfriend. We are all trying to fit into a category but we’re not just family but we are so more than just a friend. We are a rare group that not everyone thinks about. We don’t have as much status as a spouse or fiancée would have and half of us will never get that chance with our Hockey Angels. But we are the ones who they talked to every single day and shared their hearts with. We are honoured to have been picked by them and to be such a special part of their lives. We want to stand strong as a group and raise awareness about negative stigmas many of us have experienced by being a girlfriend. We want to support other significant others who might be in our shoes but weren’t lucky enough to land in a sisterhood such as ours.