TRURO, N.S. - For Jim McCready, music is the ultimate form of expression.
So when he felt the need to express his sorrow after hearing about the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, he knew what to do.
“It was just a spontaneous, in-the-moment act,” said McCready.
“I felt it was necessary to just reach out in a little way. There are no words anyone can say to make this better, to provide those affected the comfort they need. There are no words, so I used notes.”
On Thursday, April 12, McCready walked into Truro’s Colchester Legion Stadium, stood at centre ice and performed a harmonica rendition of Amazing Grace to an empty arena, in honour of those lost in the accident.
He asked a visitor of the rink to join him on the ice and record a video on their phone. He ended by saying “For the boys in the West, for all their parents and everyone hurting,” before walking away.
“When Jim asked me to go out there, I thought he worked at the rink or something. I had no idea who he was or what we were doing,” said Dave Tompkins, who had travelled from P.E.I. Thursday to test-drive an ice resurfacer at the arena.
“He asked me to take out my phone, and then when he started playing I don’t know what happened, I just lost it. I could barely hold the phone, it was that emotional to sit there and listen to him play. It was absolutely something special.”
Tompkins brought the video home to his wife, and after explaining to her what had happened, she immediately uploaded it to Facebook.
Since being uploaded Thursday evening, the original video has been shared over 9,400 times and has over 311,000 views.
“I didn’t realize it would go to this extent,” said McCready of the video.
“I didn’t want any recognition for this, I just felt something tell me, ‘Go to centre ice and do this.’ I thought it would just go through families and different people and maybe make its way to the West to some of the people who carry that burden so heavily.”
Nothing about the video or his performance was planned, McCready said, but instead it all just worked out.
“What was kind of fitting was the silence of the place, on a day when most were gathered in numbers. It was like an empty stadium,” he said.
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Like most across the country, McCready felt tremendous grief when he heard about the accident, which left 10 Broncos players and six others dead as of Friday, a feeling he still carries with him today.
“I have family out there, friends, and know a lot of farmers out there,” he said.
“The people there are as strong as the land, but everybody gets a little weak over something like this. I feel their pain, but everyone else does too. It isn’t unique to me; everyone is wearing jerseys, collectively expressing their grief. This was just my way of expressing it too.”
McCready hopes the video will reach those affected by the crash, and help lessen their grief.
“We can’t take away their pain or sorrow, but we do carry it with them,” he said.
“Doing this tribute was meant to be, I had to do that for myself. I really hope those who are still healing and trying to recover, those parents who have lost kids, can do so soon.”