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Locally made quilt honors memories of Broncos victims

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“It’s brought so many people together. It’s such an awful event but it’s brought people together.”
That was the thoughts of Patti Constant. Constant was sitting in her living room, speaking with the Opasquia Times. Nearby lay a quilt she had made with 16 faces, a photo of each of the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy which occurred just a few hours’ drive from her home on OCN.
Constant readily admits she never knew any of the victims, their relatives or even any of the players they played with or against. The victims, like to many Canadians who rallied around Humboldt in the wake of the tragedy, were total strangers.
Yet Constant felt compelled to do something to honor their memories, stepping forward to help in any way she could. What she did was piece together the quilt over seven days “working day and night” to put forth a tribute that paid homage to the lives of those victims, many of whom were just teenage boys with a full life ahead of them.
“My husband and I were watching all the stories on TV and tried to figure out what we could do other than donate to the GoFundMe page and he said, ‘Well, you’re a quilter, make them a quilt.’,” recalled Constant on where the idea came from. “I’ve done memory quilts before, photo quilts, the last ones I did were when the Blizzard were here like long ago. They used to give the 20 year old players star blankets with an image of the player. I figured it’s another hockey team, we’ll do it that way.”
Printing their images onto fabric, Constant painstakingly pieced together the quilt, giving each of the victim’s equal space and prominence. The finished piece was shared on Facebook over the weekend, originally done just so those who contributed material and assistance could see the final outcome. Local places like Jane’s Crafts and Hobbies, Paperworks Plus and the New Avenue Hotel all donated to Constant’s quilt.
The post did much more than that however, as it was quickly picked up and shared extensively. By Wednesday it had received over 10,000 likes and nearly 20,000 shares with numerous comments of support and appreciation.
“That just blew me away, made me even shy to go out of the house for a while. People started private messaging me as well,” said Constant, laughing a little at the fuss that was made over her work.
Constant, who served one year as a billet family for a pair of OCN Blizzard players, plans to take the quilt to Humboldt, though an exact date has not been set yet, nor has it been established where the quilt will be displayed, though Constant hopes it will reside in the Elgar Petersen Arena, the home of the Broncos. Constant admitted to looking forward to bringing the quilt to Humboldt but was also nervous as well.
“I’m kind of nervous, worried; it’s going to be emotional I think. It was emotional making it,” said Constant.
While Constant has not been in touch with the families of the victims, she said she was made aware of a few comments made by some of them, all in support. Additionally, a friend of an aunt of one of the hockey players did reach out to Constant, asking if she’d make her a similar quilt with just the one player to give as a gift to the aunt.
And while there isn’t that personal connection for Constant, she’s well aware there could have been.
“It could have happened to our hockey team,” said Constant, referring to the OCN Blizzard Junior A hockey club before also noting her own family could have faced a similar fate. “Our kids played hockey and all of the trips they took and you know darn well they weren’t in seatbelts all the time. I knew they horsed around in the van.”
That thought more than any other is likely what has galvanized the country and even this community to show support for Humboldt and the Broncos hockey club. Vigils, rallies, a GoFundMe page that was stopped by the Humboldt Broncos after it reached over $15 million in a matter of days, all done because hockey and a unique closeness bind many in this nation.
But for the grace of God...

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Trent Allen
EDITOR
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