Alberta families speaking out over published Humboldt Broncos book

By Scott Roblin
October 9, 2018 - 5:44pm Updated: October 9, 2018 - 7:25pm


LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Humboldt Broncos tragedy continues to hit home with millions of people across the world, most of all for those families who are still trying to pick up the pieces.

The Boulet family from Lethbridge has been taking life day by day since the April 6 bus crash that claimed the life of their 21-year-old son Logan.

Now, they’re speaking out after a book sharing stories of their son and the Broncos team was published in Saskatchewan last month.

Logan’s father Toby said they’re urging people not to purchase ‘Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos.’

“We don't want people to think that the families endorsed this book, it's not the book,” said Boulet. “The book might come out someday or it might never come out. It might never be a collective story and right now it's certainly not going to be.”

Penned by author Dr. Barry Heath, the book chronicles the history of the team and also shares stories of the 29 people on the bus, without the endorsement of any of the families.

Boulet said Heath approached them multiple times and had to get the Broncos organization involved.

“We asked then president of the Broncos Kevin Garinger to talk to him on our behalf and tell him to stop bothering us and that nobody wants to talk about a book at this time, it's off the table,” he said.

Heath used previously published interviews and articles to write the book, and said in a deleted Facebook post that he would donate half of every $20 book sale towards the Humboldt Broncos Alumni Association.

Michelle Straschnitzki’s son Ryan was paralyzed from the chest down in the crash and said she’s furious that Heath went against the wishes of the families.

“For him to go ahead and do this because he wanted to be first out of the gate or whatever he wanted to glean from it, I think that it's exploitative,”said Straschnitzki.

The self-published book is being sold on a store by store basis at Chapters and Indigo stores in Saskatchewan, while Coles in Medicine Hat confirmed they will not be selling the book.

Boulet said the Broncos families are all in agreement that it’s not the right time for this book to come out since the wound is still so fresh.

“We told him you can write the book but now we're going to stop you from selling it,” he said. “You can do whatever you want but we're not going to let you sell it. We're going to every place you try and sell it and we're going to contact them and we did that.”

Heath released the following statement to Global Lethbridge on Tuesday.

“I am sorry some of the families, including the billet families who have been affected in the same way, believed they had to give permission for me to celebrate their loved ones as I have done. I relied solely on their interviews with media in order to capture and retell the beautiful memories of lives lost and changed.

Those who know me, including those who don’t but have read the book, thank me for  writing an honourable and respectful tribute to the Broncos players, the emergency response, the team’s origin, the citizens of Humboldt, and how the 1973 Broncos’ forfeit of a championship resulted in a safer hockey environment. They have given positive feedback on a story they thought they knew, but learned more about the backgrounds and accomplishments of the people affected they would not have otherwise known without their own extensive probing of various media outlets. 

The Greek philosopher, Pericles, said 2500 years ago that ‘what you leave behind is not what is engraved on stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.’ Throughout the Broncos story, people talked about the team being part of the fabric of the city of Humboldt.  I wove a story where the fabric itself intertwines in so many ways, one cannot help but treasure the team’s history and its promise for the future.”

Airdire's Straschnitzki said they don’t want to put Heath out of business, but they are asking people not to support this book.

“We don't want to ruin his way of life, we're not trying to do that,” she said. “We just don't think that he should be making a living off of this tragedy.”

Boulet added the healing process is still ongoing for many of the families and it should be their decision on when their stories are eventually shared.

“It's our story to tell, individually and collectively, and he's tried to tell a story that's not his to tell,” said Boulet.

(With files from Global Lethbridge)

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