HALIFAX, N.S. - It is a familiar hockey image – players helping an injured teammate from the ice.
Such a moment, one he described as a “hockey metaphor,” is what Bruce MacKinnon touched on to deliver his heartfelt message on the heels of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash tragedy.
“It felt like it might be the right fit,” the award-winning Chronicle Herald editorial cartoonist said.
He noted the likeness also reflects the “tremendous support” Canadians have provided to the hockey organization, community and province of Saskatchewan.
“They are reeling,” MacKinnon said, noting the “magnitude [of the tragedy] will be felt for a long time.”
“People need to feel that they can help out in some way and have been coming together to provide support,” he added.
Canadians – from Abbotsford to Antigonish and countless points in between – not to mention around the world, have been providing assistance, financial and otherwise, to the victims and their families.
There is the hashtag #PutYourSticksOut that is encouraging the placement of hockey sticks outside homes as a tribute, while #JerseysForHumboldt, which took place April 12, called for people to don sport jerseys of any kind.
A GoFundMe has garnered – to date – a record-setting more than $8 million, while organ and blood donations have also spiked.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I would have to do one,” MacKinnon said, when asked about the genesis of his cartoon.
Noting the tragedy took place on a Friday night (April 6), MacKinnon said he was at the start of four days off. By the time he was scheduled to return to work, he thought there would be another story – at the forefront of the news – for him to tackle.
That didn’t happen.
“There were, at least, five stories in our paper Tuesday (April 10), so I knew it was an issue that I had to focus on,” MacKinnon said.
He added such a tragic story is one “no cartoonist wants to deal with.”
“It is very difficult,” MacKinnon noted.
Nevertheless, with his subject in focus, the wheels began to turn and then came his “germ of an idea” – two players helping their fallen teammate.
As he put pencil to paper, MacKinnon started with the aforementioned injured player, one donning Broncos’ (and Saskatchewan) colours – green and gold – with the nameplate ‘SASK’ – flanked by teammates wearing Canada’s familiar red and white.
“But, I thought, it needed more,” MacKinnon said.
He added more players – also in red and white – with name plates depicting Canada’s other provinces. The Bronco player has his arms draped over the shoulders of ‘ALTA’ (Alberta) and ‘MAN’ (Manitoba) – their geographical neighbours on either side of the Prairies.
Positive feedback of this most recent work from the Antigonish native, via social media and otherwise continues to come in.
“You have no clue, especially with these types of cartoons, how they will be interpreted and how people will react,” MacKinnon said.